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Despite all that has been written about the proposed tax restructuring being considered by Congress, there has not been much discussion about how it will affect the D.C. region’s technology community. This restructuring will dramatically affect our technology economy and we will need to adjust. Let me explain.

As things stand now, if the tax restructuring is adopted as proposed, a corporation’s income from operations will be treated much more favorably than individual income derived from a well-paying job. In addition, income from a passive investment in a business will be treated much more favorably than the current income derived from the owner who works in the very same business.

These changes will put many of our existing businesses and most talented individuals at a comparative disadvantage. As I have pointed out in other columns, our technology community currently skews very strongly towards owner-managed businesses that are structured to provide current income.

Simply reorganizing as a corporation will not be suitable for many of these owner-operated businesses. Many provide current income to owners, many of them running small businesses, that is used to support families. Some must be structured to provide current income to investors as well. In certain instances, licensing and government rules require that these businesses be structured as owner operated. For all of these businesses, their effective tax rates will be higher than a corporation would pay. Depending upon the size of the businesses and its profitability, this will create a tax disadvantage that could amount to hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars of taxes.

On the other hand, the changes in corporate tax rates, and the favorable tax treatment for passive investing will be a huge opportunity for investors. They will benefit from better tax treatment on current income from investments as well on long-term capital gains. This favorable treatment will have two important effects. First, it will give passive investors a large new pool of capital to invest derived from the large tax subsidies they will be provided. Second, it will encourage business owners who have the option to trade current income for longer-term business value, since the tax rate on a sale of an interest in a business will be much lower than the rate on current income paid by the owner.

Another area where the proposed tax changes will have a big effect will be our universities. Changes in the tax benefits to be gained from research and development may shrink funds available for sponsored research. Changes in the tax treatment of research fellowships will discourage students who don’t otherwise have the ability to pay for their graduate degrees.

Our highly paid workforce will also see changes in their tax bills, due to changes in the tax deductibility of local and state taxes and mortgage interest. These changes will adversely affect our region’s ability to attract and retain highly paid technical talent when compared to competing regions. The higher pay our region’s employers can offer will become less appealing, if it results in higher taxes and participation in a housing market where valuations are constrained or falling due to the loss of current tax benefits for owners. Transportation, education and infrastructure challenges in our region will also become more expensive to solve, if they require additional local taxes to finance improvements that are doubly taxed.

Taken as a whole, our region is facing a large adjustment if the tax restructuring occurs. How adversely we are affected will be driven by whether we can make up for the negative aspects by creating enough new businesses that will be attractive to investors and corporate buyers. For many years, I have argued that our region’s future requires that we change the model we use for technology-based business creation. That need is now even more immediate.

It is ironic that many of the people who most avidly support these likely tax changes are the same people who have consistently stated that “government shouldn’t pick winners or losers.” Hard to see the revision of the tax code as anything other than that.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t adapt to the new rulebook and make our own future.

 

 

 

 

 

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For many people, last week was the moment when Bitcoin registered as something they should know about, as it saw a sky-high boost in value.

Bitcoin is a currency. Society uses standardized currency to exchange things of value. When you sell something, you can either trade for some other good or service the buyer is selling, or you can receive currency – in other words, money – that you can then use to buy something from a different seller. There is nothing magical about a currency – it could literally be anything – provided everyone in a society agrees to accept it as such. 

Currency must have some consistency in its per unit value. If currency does not have a clear value, it is hard to buy things with it; the seller will always want more while the buyer says “only this much.” Additionally, a currency has to maintain its value over time, since the holder may not want to spend it right away. Currency only has value if we all believe it has value. 

This truth has made people uncomfortable for generations. History has shown governments have often forced its citizens to use a currency that is not desirable as a store of value, or undermined its value by unilaterally changing the value per unit of its currency (a devaluation), or creating large budget deficits that it finances by unilaterally creating more currency (inflation). This is why you often hear central bankers talk about inflation as a bad thing – they are afraid that an erosion in the value per unit of a currency will make it less desirable. It’s also why nations who have currencies that are not as stable will often put in place “exchange controls” which make its citizens unable to use other currencies that might be more stable or desirable.  

Bitcoin’s underlying operational structure – the blockchain transaction ledger system that supports it – is not subject to government scrutiny or regulation. Bitcoin is thus incredibly useful for people who want to hide their transactions and money from governments. But, it’s also attractive to people who fear government actions that could cause a devaluation of the currency they are currently using.  

Right now, people are taken with the rapid rise of the price of Bitcoin as a financial phenomenon. I think that they should be focusing on two things that are much more significant. The first is that much of the demand for Bitcoin is coming from nations that have exchange controls where citizens are using the anonymity of the Bitcoin market structure to avoid these controls.  

The second, which concerns me much more as a U.S. business person, is that the people are signaling that they think that it is worth much more than the U.S. dollars they are using to purchase the Bitcoin. As Congress is about to explode the U.S. budget deficit through some very ill-advised tax cuts, they should take note of this market signal. 

Since World War II, the U.S. dollar has been the primary international currency. This has benefited us tremendously. More than any other factor, this primacy has allowed our country to have low borrowing rates, low inflation and low energy costs. If the U.S. dollar loses its attractiveness because society finds a preferable currency for exchange (whether it is Bitcoin or any other currency) – the implications for the U.S. economy are grave: higher interest rates, higher inflation, higher energy costs and lack of price stability. 

History is littered with governments that eroded the value of their currency through financial imprudence. Our nation is not immune from this fact. If international investors, and our own citizens, lose confidence in the U.S. dollar we will pay dearly. Bitcoin’s rise could be a sign of trouble to come.  

That’s why it should matter to you. 

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Last week, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission announced his intention to eliminate net neutrality in furtherance of the White House’s conviction that Internet access should be an unregulated, private business activity. Many Americans who aren’t tech savvy don’t see this as a big deal. To the contrary, it is a big deal. Their ability to participate in society and the economy is about to get hurt.

To illustrate why this is so, let me analogize to a public benefit that all Americans value: access to electricity.

Imagine that access to electricity was handled the same way that access to the Internet will be under the FCC’s approach. Would you be happy with a situation where your ability to obtain electricity was limited to a single provider who could charge you whatever they wished, offer you whatever service level they thought appropriate, and limit your choice of alternatives?

We all know that electricity comes into your home through a single line owned by an electric company. Because of government regulations and investment, access to electricity is substantially universal around the United States. Innovative companies that provide electricity in new ways can get access to consumers and businesses. Profit is balanced against consumer access.

This didn’t happen by accident. The balancing of the interests of industry and society occurred because in the 20th century a broad societal consensus was reached. Electricity is essential to modern life, and all Americans should have fair access to it. Depending upon the circumstances, sometimes electricity was provided by government entities, sometimes by for-profit companies, and sometimes by cooperatives. Power produced by innovative and cost-efficient producers, such as solar, had to be carried over other companies’ transmission lines so it could reach consumers. The ability of the owners of those transmission lines to maximize profit was balanced against the social good that electricity provided to all.

The analogies to access to the Internet are striking. There are many parts of the United States where access to the Internet is not achievable solely on a for-profit basis, because the population density is too low, the geography too challenging, or the residents too poor. Many Americans with access are finding that they are not able to pay ever-increasing prices. Businesses grow ever more reliant on the Internet. School systems assume that their students have access at home. More and more of the information our citizens need to make informed decisions is delivered over the Internet.

In the second decade of the 21st century, it is becoming abundantly clear that access to the Internet is essential for our nation to grow and our citizens to participate in its abundance. The proposed changes to net neutrality suggest the Trump administration and many in Congress put their faith in the free market to provide the Internet access all Americans must have. Even though I am an investor and businessman, this is a circumstance where I think that this faith is misplaced. Why would for-profit Internet access businesses ever provide services or make investment decisions that aren’t based solely on maximizing profit?

Let’s not fool ourselves for the sake of adherence to ideology. Without some the introduction of other considerations imposed by regulation or government action, the Internet providers will not have any reason to modify their pursuit of maximum profits or provide uneconomic services. They are public companies, not social enterprises. But treating Internet access as a luxury and not a basic right is unfair to our citizens, to our business community, and ultimately to the country as a whole.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, our political leaders recognized that access to electricity required a balancing of commercial and social interests. In light of how essential access to the Internet is to the 21st century citizen, shouldn’t there be a similar balancing?

 

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I regularly hear people complain that our region lacks venture capital. Last week I asked members of our entrepreneurial community about this perceived funding gap and what they thought we should do about it.

The first thing I learned was that the venture capital funding gap was most profoundly felt when a start-up needed capital to accelerate its climb towards success, what I’ll call “acceleration capital.” The entrepreneurs pointed to many start-ups successfully finding their initial risk capital from friends and families, or smaller venture funds, and raising the first $250,000 to $1 million necessary to get started. They also reminded me of the many innovative companies in our region that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital to fund business expansion. They all agreed acceleration venture capital was the hardest to find.

Some thought our start-ups were not perceived as compelling in comparison to those in other regions, so that acceleration capital went elsewhere. Our region didn’t promote itself well, didn’t have a culture of risk taking, or suffered from a heavy focus on service-business models, were each identified by entrepreneurs as potential causes of this competitive disadvantage.

Others didn’t see it as an issue relating to our supply of compelling companies. Ed Barrientos, a long-time angel investor and chief executive of Brazen Technologies, told me he felt “the number of viable start-ups has been relatively constant for the last 15 years.” He thought that the perceived funding void was just a function of “signal to noise” because more companies were starting here than previously, so that there were more businesses competing for the same pool of capital.

Entrepreneurs who had been investors provided the perspective that the acceleration funding gap was a national problem. Gene Riechers, a successful venture investor and former technology executive, pointed to a national consolidation of the venture industry into a smaller number of large funds. This consolidation has forced the venture industry to concentrate on deals that can put a large amount of capital to work quickly – making acceleration deals burdensome and unattractive.

Riechers cautioned against waiting for new VC funds to be raised that would focus on acceleration capital because the industry trends that led to consolidation were likely to continue for a number of years. His advice was to look for acceleration capital elsewhere.

But where?

A few entrepreneurs thought that the region’s wealthy would be a good place to start. Ben Foster, a business mentor and serial entrepreneur, felt that a regional effort in educating local wealth managers and millionaires on the investment opportunities that start-ups present could create new sources of acceleration capital.

Others thought that greater integration with larger regional businesses was the best path – customer revenue could provide growth funding. An example was James Quigley, founder of GoCanvas, an app technology company, who would like to see the business community “engage in the ecosystem and invest.”

Naturally, people raised the role of government in solving the problem, although not as a direct investor. Mirza Baig, a partner in Aldrich Capital and an investor in start-ups, thought state governments should look to trigger acceleration venture capital through economic and tax incentives. Others pointed to the federal government as a source of research-and-development funding that could be leveraged to accelerate high tech companies.

A few also asked whether we should be worrying about venture capital funding to fill this void at all. Mary Tucker, chief executive of UPIC Health, a health care start-up, pointed to the growing number of investors looking to make socially impactful investments, adding that “perhaps the answer is not to focus on the doughnut hole – I’m squarely in it right now – but rather expand and build on social VCs in the region.”

Clearly, we have an issue that is unlikely to go away. I think it’s time to take an entrepreneur’s approach to solving the problem. We’ve identified some potential solutions. Let’s pick one and get started.

 

 

 

 

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Last week I shared some insights about how leaders rise out of groups and how groups react to bad leadership. A number of people asked me whether I thought the same rules applied to situations where a leader was imposed from above. To gain some insight I asked a local expert. 

Mary Abbajay, chief executive of the Careerstone Group, specializes in organizational change. In connection with an upcoming book, she has been looking at the skills required for followers to successfully manage relationships with leaders they don’t pick. 

Abbajay finds commonality whether a leader rises or is imposed. Followers must be an active participant in the relationship with a leader.  People who are passive and just do what they are told rapidly find themselves disillusioned.

Followers need to create a positive relationship with their leaders. They shouldn’t rely on leaders to do right by them.  nstead they need to manage upward through a conscious and deliberate effort to communicate to those above you in the chain of command.   

This is not an easy thing to do.   

Not every message from a subordinate will be met with openness. Much depends on the willingness of a leader to hear contrary viewpoints. Because it can be a risky proposition to manage upward, Abbajay recommends that followers have reasonable expectations for what speaking up can accomplish.   

When leaders do not rise from a group, their leadership likely occurred through external achievements or by pleasing someone other than the group members. This makes it less likely that the leader will be beholden to the group and more likely followers will have to adapt to the leader’s behavior traits. Successful people are particularly hard to change because they generally attribute their success to their dominant personality traits, so they will be slow to change unless they have to.

In these situations, it is best to look for incremental changes. Because the grant of authority in an imposed leader is one way – authority of the leader over the followers – the delegation of authority that occurs when leaders emerge from a group does not exist. This means that changing leadership behavior for an imposed leader is more in the nature of a negotiation.

To change the behavior of imposed leaders, followers must communicate clear benefits to the leader to be gained by changing his behavior. Additionally, responsible followers then must ask whether they are willing to do their part. Followers need to be self-critical. Why are they asking a leader to change, and what will they do in response? Followers are obligated to speak up and follow through.   

Assuming that the leader is open to input, and the followers are willing to do their part, an effective bond can be built. Even in the case of an imposed leader, the best leaders and followers develop a sense of shared responsibility. In a way, the best imposed leaders delegate some of their authority to the group, even when they don’t have to. Where leaders and followers become tightly connected and develop a bi-directional relationship, organizations are healthy and the morale of followers is high.

The lesson is clear: effective leadership, however it arises, is a shared responsibility. Even a boss imposed from above is more likely to be effective by positively engaging with her followers.  

As I tend to, when looking at these issues I ask whether these lessons for business are equally true for politics. When it comes to leaders imposed from above, there is one big difference. In business, if followers determine they can’t work with a boss, the most likely remedy is to change jobs.  

In politics, if you don’t like your leaders, you vote them out of office.

 

 

 

 

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In business and politics, we most often act as part of a group. Understanding group dynamics and its relationship to leadership is a topic very much on my mind these days. Let me explain why. 

As an innovation expert and educator, I spend a lot of time working with groups and teaching group behavior. I have found certain consistent behaviors among the hundreds of groups I have instructed or worked with over the years. 

In the United States, when a group does not have a person designated as leader by virtue of title or position, group members have a very strong bias towards adopting majority rule as their decision-making paradigm. I consistently see this regardless of the group members’ age, income, education or other demographic attributes. Absent a clear leader, group members most often consult with each other and then assemble a majority vote to support a decision. 

Interestingly, while groups are driven to find common ground and make decisions through majority rule, they are also very willing to be led. But only if they are comfortable with who leads them. Left to their own to act, groups find their leaders through questioning or conduct to identify special expertise, a job title that carries authority, or other indicia of authority. Then, they follow the leaders they choose. 

Understanding the contradictory impulses of majority rule and a willingness to be led is essential for effective leadership. The grant of leadership is always contingent. Groups may be willing to be led, but only if the leaders consistently demonstrate that they are competent to lead, that their decision making is sound and that they give credence to the opinions of those whom they lead. 

What happens when a leader proves not to be worthy of continued leadership? Groups and their members become frustrated and look to reassert their power to decide. And if the leader does not cede authority back to the group or to a leader the group prefers, the group gets more frustrated.   

I’m sure you’ve experienced this group dynamic for yourself. Perhaps it was when a boss gave a poorly qualified relative a management job over more qualified non-family members. Or, when a team is adversely affected by a team captain that doesn’t challenge management or the refs on behalf of the players. It could have been when a chief executive turns out to be sexually harassing employees, while espousing a corporate culture of inclusion. In each case, there was a group that experienced the delegation of authority and the frustration and anger that followed when the leader proved unworthy of following.  

Everyone knows that his or her opinion matters. Every group expects deference and acknowledgement from its leaders.   

This is something every business leader must understand to be successful. The best business leaders take the time to remain in touch with their employees through 360-degree reviews, strategic planning, organization retreats, employee training and development and many other means. Indeed, the entirety of best practices in management and leadership rests on understanding the needs of the group and on individuals participating in forming the group consensus. 

Which brings me to the world of politics and policy. Too many political leaders seem to have forgotten that they owe their leadership roles to the individuals and groups that delegated authority to them. They no longer treat them as if their opinions matter. A business leader that ignores the well-being of his employees would surely be fired. Why shouldn’t political leaders be evaluated by the same standard?    

Don’t let the noise of current events confuse or dissuade you. Leadership is not taken. It is earned. No one should be a leader without honoring that fundamental truth. What is true in business should also be true for politics.  

 

 

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I have been wondering recently whether the current strength of the stock markets is attributable to expectations of tax cuts. I decided this week to check in with local financial market experts and find out.  

They uniformly told me that the biggest reason for the rise in the equity markets is economic fundamentals. For example, Anne McCabe Triana, president and CEO of the Reston wealth management firm Curo Private Wealth, told me “stock prices are definitely elevated,” but there were objective facts supporting valuations. The equity market was not a bubble, and reflected instead “low interest rates and an increasingly positive business environment.” Brad Smith, chief investment officer at MTX Wealth Management in Reston, pointed to continued corporate earnings growth and low unemployment as additional contributing factors. 

I did hear from these experts that the possibility of federal tax cuts was contributing to some recent acceleration in stock market gains. John Devine, partner and strategic advisor at Brown Advisory, thought that “optimism about tax cuts” was reflected in the market, but that “it is always hard to pinpoint what drives the market in the short term.” Triana echoed this point and also highlighted that companies likely to benefit from tax cuts were getting a recent valuation boost in the market. 

In fact, the biggest effect of the tax cut anticipation may be in the valuation of smaller public companies. Barry Glassman, president of Glassman Wealth Services, said the possibility of tax cuts was having a disproportionately positive effect on these businesses, with their valuation as a group increasing 11 percent in the last month alone, a valuation change significantly higher than that of larger companies.

Since the expectation of tax cuts is providing a boost to some companies’ market value, this raises the question of what happens if tax cuts don’t happen.  Not surprisingly, these financial experts who see the underlying economic factors as the primary driver of the market don’t see the failure of tax cuts to materialize as likely to cause a lasting downtown in valuations. The absence of tax cuts would be the sort of unexpected news that can cause markets to dip in the short term, but the underlying economy is what drives the long-term trend. And, those objective facts support ongoing growth in the value of equities.  

But, what happens if the proposed tax cuts occur?  There was agreement among those that I spoke with that the stock markets would get an upward valuation boost. How much was difficult to predict, since the current valuations have already built in the expectation of tax cuts. For them the biggest determinant for future growth would be the objective facts of the underlying economy.  

This is where many of these experts expressed concern. Tax cuts and their accompanying changes in the federal debt raised significant risk of higher inflation and higher interest rates. For example, Glassman pointed out that inflation could occur either because the tax cuts accelerate wage growth through new hiring, or through a rapid increase of federal deficits.

Inflation causes higher interest rates, which adversely affect private borrowers and federal expenditures on debt service. Inflation will also erode the value of the U.S. dollar, which will make imports and oil more expensive. Hard to imagine that this is a policy choice to make if you are a President trying to promote manufacturing jobs, exports and traditional energy industries. 

This is where many of these experts expressed concern. Tax cuts and their accompanying changes in the federal debt raised significant risk of higher inflation and higher interest rates. For example, Glassman pointed out that inflation could occur either because the tax cuts accelerate wage growth through new hiring, or through a rapid increase of federal deficits.

Inflation causes higher interest rates, which adversely affect private borrowers and federal expenditures on debt service. Inflation will also erode the value of the U.S. dollar, which will make imports and oil more expensive. Hard to imagine that this is a policy choice to make if you are a President trying to promote manufacturing jobs, exports and traditional energy industries. 

For years Republicans have been saying they believe in free markets. The financial markets are clearly saying that tax cuts are not necessary. Who is telling them that they are?  

 

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Politicians agree on the soundbite: everyone should have a job that pays a living wage. But they don’t agree on how to make that happen. I’d like to help them by sharing some things I have learned. 

Working with leading community and economic development entities over the last two years, I’ve had a close look at our region’s workforce. The data consistently show our region has been adding and filling lower-paying jobs that do not require technical or specialized expertise. At the same time, however, many high-paying jobs that require technical skills are going unfilled.  

For example, experts tell me there are as many as 40,000 unfilled jobs in the cyber security industry in the greater Washington region. Business owners in hospitality, construction and healthcare tell me the same thing: good jobs are going unfilled.  

Here’s what some people who are currently working this problem have told me.  

Ed Barrientos is chief executive of Brazen Technologies, a rapidly growing startup focused on matching talent with jobs. He sees a “major crisis in the ability of businesses to hire qualified and skilled candidates” and points out that this is a broad issue that cuts across industries. More and more frequently, employers are expecting new employees to have the required skills at the time of hiring. Pressures on margins and competition make them less willing to take on the expense of training on the job. They need to hire people who can hit the ground running. 

This is a theme that was echoed by Dario Marquez, president and CEO of Wize Solutions, a business that matches high tech job opportunities in Northern Virginia with workers in Southwest Virginia. His work shows him that “many employers look for candidates to have technical certifications.” Employers not only want workers who say they are skilled – they want some objective measure to ensure that workers are skilled. 

Meeting this challenge of training and certification can’t happen business by business. There must be a paradigm shift in in how we train workers and satisfy employers that workers have the required skills. Glenn Nye, a former U.S. congressman and now an advisor to regional tech companies, including Palantir and FiscalNote, believes that “the jobs of tomorrow will require a rethinking of education, from content at the secondary level to more holistic approaches at the post-secondary level.” 

Addressing the reality of skilled employment is complex. Janet Van Pelt, the CEO of the education firm CourseMaven and an expert on training, sees the issue as having three main components: access to education, credentialing students to demonstrate skills attainment, and public policy. The locations that are the most successful are those where government and the private sector work closely together.

These are just a few examples of what I hear every day. Businesses need skilled employees, but for the most part they do not have sufficient resources or the time to solve this problem on their own. When a business is growing rapidly it can be a tremendous job creation opportunity. Paradoxically, that is the time when they can least afford to train, but most need, skilled workers. 

Owners of rapidly growing businesses in our region haven’t told me that if their taxes are lower, they’d hire more people. What they have told me is that their biggest problem is finding skilled talent to fill they jobs they have ready and waiting. 

Politicians who want to grow our region’s economy need to focus on what the region’s businessmen are saying. After all, they should know best what they need.  

 

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Virginia will be electing its next governor in a few weeks. Many observers see it as a bellwether election. I think they are correct, particularly for what the election will tell us about entrepreneurs’ attitudes towards government and elected leaders. The job creators of our society have a strong message for our elected officials: tax cuts might be nice to have, but social stability and problem-solving are more important. Let me share some of what I have heard from them. 

Michael Avon, chief executive of ICX Media, a digital video start-up, told me that he has grown tired of partisanship. The current environment makes him “fiercely independent – more so than ever before.” He’s looking for elected officials to focus on “working with others to solve problems.”  

Eric Koefoot, president and CEO of Public Relay, a PR monitoring service, raised a similar concern. He thinks that he and many entrepreneurs are “political unicorns – socially liberal and fiscally conservative.” For him, political extremes won’t get the country to where it needs to be. He fears that the parties have become too focused on running towards their perceived bases – the Republicans becoming “socially backward and fiscally reckless” while the Democrats run the risk of becoming “anti-capitalist.” 

The concern that the GOP is abandoning its conservative roots was something I heard from a number of long-term Republicans. Rob Quartel, chairman and CEO of NTELX, a technology implementation firm, is a lifelong Republican who has run for federal office three times. He is very concerned that “both parties are more factionalized, tactical, more ideological” than ever. However, he has particularly strong words for his Republican brethren, because a focus on populism has made the Republican party “all negative all the time” and unwilling to work to solve problems on issues like immigration, free speech and human rights at all levels. These are all issues on which Quartel believes “real conservatives” can engage Democrats in constructive and respectful conversations. He worries that there are few real conservatives left in his party to work across the aisle. 

Worry about stability is another theme that came up frequently. Ajay Sravanapudi, a serial entrepreneur, finds that the current climate is making him more, not less, political. Although he does not identify with a party, he finds himself “pushed to the left even more.” He added that the “tolerance of the chaos of Trump by the right drives me nuts.” 

There’s one thing that I find truly striking as we head into Virginia’s gubernatorial election: the region’s entrepreneurial community is not choosing sides as much as it is choosing to stand for constructive engagement. For the first time in its history, the Northern Virginia Technology Council did not endorse the Republican candidate for governor, instead commending both Democratic Lt. Governor Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie for their willingness to promote innovation and workforce development. 

Another group of regional CEOs, led by James Quigley, the founder of GoCanvas, a mobile technology firm, delivered to both campaigns a letter asking the candidates for focus on workforce development and support for innovation to grow the economy. Almost uniformly, my entrepreneur friends are telling me that they will support politicians and leaders that are serious about solving problems, whatever their party affiliation. They are dismayed by the messages of division that have emerged as a political strategy. 

Both of the candidates say that it is entrepreneurs who will create the jobs our people need. Statistically, that is absolutely correct. Small and rapidly growing businesses founded by entrepreneurs have long been our national and regional economic growth engine. Since the candidates believe that entrepreneurs are so valuable, then my recommendation is that they listen to what they say are saying. 

Entrepreneurs want a government that works with them and politicians who work together. The politics of distraction and division being practiced by some just won’t get it done. 

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I was fortunate to be the moderator of a discussion with Lt. Governor Northam and Vice President Biden. We talked about how important it is to invest in our people, and take positive steps to create 21st century jobs. I was proud to be with them.

Vice President Biden pointed out that the Lt. Governor is a genuine and authentic man. This is consistent with what I have seen over the last 6 years. Public service is a phrase that has come to carry negative weight from some — but when I am with people like the Lt. Governor Northam and Vice President Biden I am reminded that there are many who try to do the right thing every day. Progress doesn’t happen by accident. It happens with intentionality.

 

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