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Some think of entrepreneurial behavior as being tied to profit making, but that’s not necessarily the case, as I was reminded by Liz Norton, founder of Stone Soup Films.

Norton grew up in Washington, D.C. and went to New York to build her career in media. She fell into the rhythm of New York life and says she adopted the myopic view many New Yorkers have about other places. Living in the Big Apple doesn’t leave much room for the second banana of your home town.

When she moved back to the nation’s capital in 2005, she says she was unsure whether she would be able to apply her honed skills in media and policy here. She wondered if there was room for her in a place where there wasn’t “a decent deli or children’s shoe store.”

What she found surprised her. The first thing she recognized was the large number of not-for-profit organizations and social ventures operating in the greater Washington region. As she met with them, she saw an interesting commonalty: a communications disaster. Time and again, the high cost of the videos that organizations were using on the websites or at fundraisers to spread their message, describe their work and share their mission would leave her “dismayed.”

That’s when Norton found an entrepreneurial way to solve a big problem. “I just made the decision to stop criticizing that work and figure out a way to do it better,” she told me as we prepared for her upcoming interview on my podcast What’s Working in Washington.

The challenge for Norton was coming up with a way to provide professional quality videos to groups who had fabulous stories to tell about how they were helping the community, and desperately needed to spread awareness but couldn’t afford the cost of production.

With her business instincts, she looked for volunteers with experience in media and production. Did these people exist in D.C.? Maybe Los Angeles, but in our nation’s capital?

Norton admits to initially having low expectations herself, “I was hoping for 15 to 20 when I started the organization.” She now has more than 700 volunteers – producers, graphic designers, technicians, videographers, editors — all skilled in media creation, providing their time to Stone Soup’s projects. Why were there so many more people with the right skills available? It turns out that big customers in the greater Washington region such as the federal government produce a lot of video with local companies.

So, in this way, proximity to the federal government provided an unexpected resource for a new entrepreneurial model. Stone Soup Films is an enterprise solving a large problem and helping organizations who are the lifeblood of what makes this region tick.

Norton says getting experts in their field to contribute their hard work without compensation is easy, because people enjoy the satisfaction that comes from helping others. For her volunteers, engagement and meaning are more important than money. She says this doesn’t surprise her, because people are good at their core.

Stone Soup Films brings out the best in our community to help our region’s not-for-profit community tell their success stories and find new resources.

It also shows how our region is innovative and entrepreneurial in all sorts of ways.

This column originally appeared in The Washington Post.

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Venture capital is an essential resource for entrepreneurial businesses, but new entrepreneurial approaches are changing the industry.

More and more new venture capital funds are popping up in the greater Washington region. Funds such as Blu Ventures, Gula Tech Adventures, NextGen Venture Partners, DataTribe, Lavrock Ventures and Strategic Cyber Ventures are writing smaller checks and providing more hands-on mentoring than larger incumbent funds can. They challenge the prevailing model for existing venture capital funds and fill a void in the greater Washington region.

Arguably, the venture capital industry needs to be disrupted. Over the last 10 years, the herd has been winnowed significantly. Venture funding has been consolidated into fewer but larger funds, with $1 billion funds becoming more and more commonplace. Our region’s best-known venture capital organizations — name brands such as Revolution and New Enterprise Associates — are able to raise more money because of their investment success. In this way, the market works fairly, rewarding those who can generate positive returns for investors.

But with this success comes concentration of capital, and that concentration comes at a cost. It is harder for large funds to make smaller investments, or even get involved in start-up investing at all.

“As funds get bigger and bigger, it’s hard for a billion-dollar-fund manager to be excited about a seed investment of $50K,” notes Ron Gula, co-founder of Gula Tech Adventures. After all, to move the needle on a $1 billion fund, each investment must yield large dollar amounts. A $50,000 investment “takes just as much effort to help that company get to the next level as a $5 million investment, but the $5 million has 100 times the return,” Gula says.

Next thing you know, larger funds are investing in more established companies that have proven growth or momentum. Businesses at this stage are not only less risky, but better able to absorb and apply larger capital raises.

They also lead to more conservatism in the investment process itself. Large institutions raise billion-dollar funds from institutional sources such as pension funds, endowments and sovereign wealth funds. These sources require a careful investment process and a focus on legal and financial compliance. However, this professionalization comes at a cost – the venture investor loses an ability to make quick decisions on a gut feeling or to “take a flyer.”

This is a phenomenon has been observed by many entrepreneurs. Dan Mindus, founder and managing partner of NextGen Venture Partners, believes that larger funds invest around financial metrics to ensure that both investments and oversight satisfy their institutional investors, and that means subsequent board service is less about mentoring and more about process. It also may make investing in people somewhat less relevant than investing in numbers.

Clearly, there is a market for smaller, more hands-on investing in our region. Funds where the investment process can be more accommodating to the unpredictability of early stage investing.

By nature, much about start-ups in the earliest stages is uncertain, and there is a strong need for help. Gula points out how many areas where an early-stage investor should help: “You need to motivate the team, make funding decisions, have input on general strategy, speak with customers, speak with analysts, speak with media and help with recruiting.” Steven Chen of Blu Ventures readily agrees and adds “post-investment active engagement” on the part of investors is “essential for early-stage companies.”

Leaders of these emerging venture funds are evidence of a clear entrepreneurial characteristic: starting a business where they see a market opportunity. Their ability to bring experienced and engaged entrepreneurial assistance to start-ups is a welcome positive development in the greater Washington region’s ability to establish and grow technology businesses.

Column originally appeared in The Washington Post.

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The term “artificial intelligence” is widely used, but less understood. As we see it permeate our everyday lives, we should deal with its inevitable exponential growth and learn to embrace it before tremendous economic and social changes overwhelm us.

Part of the confusion about artificial intelligence is in the name itself. There is a tendency to think about AI as an endpoint — the creation of self-aware beings with consciousness that exist thanks to software. This somewhat disquieting concept weighs heavily; what makes us human when software can think, too? It also distracts us from the tremendous progress that has been made in developing software that ultimately drives AI: machine learning.

Machine learning allows software to mimic and then perform tasks that were until very recently carried out exclusively by humans. Simply put, software can now substitute for workers’ knowledge to a level where many jobs can be done as well — or even better — by software. This reality makes a conversation about when software will acquire consciousness somewhat superfluous.

When you combine the explosion in competency of machine learning with a continued development of hardware that mimics human action (think robots), our society is headed into a perfect storm where both physical labor and knowledge labor are equally under threat.

The trends are here, whether through the coming of autonomous taxis or medical diagnostics tools evaluating your well-being. There is no reason to expect this shift towards replacement to slow as machine learning applications find their way into more parts of our economy.

The invention of the steam engine and the industrialization that followed may provide a useful analogue to the challenges our society faces today. Steam power first substituted the brute force of animals and eventually moved much human labor away from growing crops to working in cities. Subsequent technological waves such as coal power, electricity and computerization continued to change the very nature of work. Yet, through each wave, the opportunity for citizens to apply their labor persisted. Humans were the masters of technology and found new ways to find income and worth through the jobs and roles that emerged as new technologies were applied.

Here’s the problem: I am not yet seeing a similar analogy for human workers when faced with machine learning and AI. Where are humans to go when most things they do can be better performed by software and machinery? What happens when human workers are not users of technology in their work but instead replaced by it entirely? I will admit to wanting to have an answer, but not yet finding one.

Some say our economy will adjust, and we will find ways to engage in commerce that relies on their labor. Others are less confident and predict a continued erosion of labor as we know it, leading to widespread unemployment and social unrest.

Other big questions raised by AI include what our expectations of privacy should be when machine learning needs our personal data to be efficient. Where do we draw the ethical lines when software must choose between two people’s lives? How will a society capable of satisfying such narrow individual needs maintain a unified culture and look out for the common good?

The potential and promise of AI requires a discussion free of ideological rigidity. Whether change occurs as our society makes those conscious choices or while we are otherwise distracted, the evolution is upon us regardless.

This column originally appeared in The Washington Post.

 

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We all know that there are two main ways to make money in business: by selling yourself (a “service”) or selling something you create (a “product”).

I work daily on growing the greater Washington region’s innovation community, and I am constantly reminded of the fundamentally important distinction between these two business approaches. Our region’s ability to produce rapidly growing innovation companies depends on how successfully we make the distinction.

To illuminate the differences between service- and product-based businesses, I turned to members of the entrepreneurial networking group FounderCorps who have successfully built technology product businesses.

They all agree that a product-based business can grow more rapidly and achieve greater scale. “If you can find something that people want and can afford, it is easy to make lots of them,” said Dendy Young, principal of McLean Capital. This was echoed by Stefan Midford, chief executive of Natural Insight, a Sterling company that makes software to manage retail workforces, who said that a product, once created “can be sold to many companies and individuals.”

Once you understand the benefit that comes from making something once and duplicating it without customization, it’s easy to understand why “massive scale and rapid growth almost always comes from product companies,” observes Eric Koefoot, CEO of PublicRelay, which sells a media monitoring product.

Why can’t service-based companies flourish as fast? Jim Condon, principal of the consultancy CC Group, believes there is a very simple explanation. For a service business, he says, growing revenue generally requires “a commensurate growth in staff.” Ben Foster, an advisor to many local startups, adds another dimension: “service companies have to invest significant time and energy into every incremental sale, understanding the unique customer needs and building a custom solution to address them.”

So how does this affect our region?

Koefoot describes the greater Washington innovation community as being “disproportionately deep in services and businesses that deliver services.” Indeed, market data support this statement. For example, a recent survey by TandemNSI revealed that of almost 1,000 regional cybersecurity companies, only 1 in 20 is a product-based business. Similar patterns are found in the software and healthcare industries.

Because service-based entrepreneurship dominates the greater Washington region, our innovation community’s ability to provide new high-value jobs and wealth creation is constrained. We must shift to creating more product-based companies to achieve higher growth from our knowledge work.

The good news is that the greater Washington region is home to many successful product companies. Companies such as Cvent, AOL, Opower, Sourcefire, Blackboard, Weddingwire, Broadsoft and others. The challenge is to create enough density of success to allow innovators to learn how to change from a service to product-based business model.

“Many service companies fail when trying to convert to a product company – they need to be run, marketed and priced very differently,” Elizabeth Shea, CEO of SpeakerBox Communications, pointed out.

Conversion from service to product requires the development of an unexpected skill: the ability to say “no” to a customer that asks for customization, Foster added. That’s tough if you have been in a service business, where each customer relationship is based upon a unique transaction.

So local entrepreneurs agree that building a product-based business is a skill that can be taught, but that we must make an effort as a region in providing these lessons. And by acquiring this skill, we just might be able to reach our potential.

This column first appeared in The Washington Post.

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While Washington area success story Invincea being sold for more than $100 million last week is newsworthy, founder Anup Ghosh’s journey is in some ways even more important. To provide some lessons learned in the trenches, I asked him to share highlights of his experience.

Ghosh described a product discovery process that began long before he even thought about starting a business. As a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Ghosh realized that when it came to cybersecurity “as good as we were on offense, we were equally vulnerable to attacks from our adversaries. In other words, we were throwing rocks from glass houses and we needed to re-think defense.”

Over the years, I have heard from many current and former program managers that DARPA is an atypical government entity. It is tasked with creating advanced technologies to avoid technological surprise from our international adversaries. It moves fast, and demands a high level of commitment and engagement. “Sprint” is the word I hear most frequently when DARPA employees describe their work pace.

Program managers like Ghosh are term-limited and given a short number of years to identify new approaches to solve big problems. Ghosh’s description of working at DARPA was very consistent with what I had heard from others. When he completed his term, Ghosh had accumulated expertise and insight into an area of technological importance. Unlike some who returned to research, he wanted to develop a commercial product.

Conventional wisdom states that entrepreneurs go to angel investors to get capital to create a product. While this approach works well in markets with ample risk capital, such as Silicon Valley, it isn’t usually successful in our region, where such capital is hard to find.

So instead, Ghosh got creative and used resources more readily available locally. He joined George Mason University as a research professor, and sought out federal research and development funding to advance his technology vision. In effect, a university community and the federal government became his angel investors!

The tactic worked. Ghosh created promising new cybersecurity technology without outside capital. He was able to show venture capitalists a completed product and get the first of a number of rounds of funding.

With the capital, Ghosh grew an impressive team including Steve Taylor, a Mason alumnus now Invincea’s longest-tenured employee, experienced cybersecurity entrepreneur Norm Laudermilch as chief operating officer and head of product, and Mike Daniels, Network Solutions founder as chairman of the board.

It was an uphill climb as he hand-picked people who could grow a software product company. Finding these workers, and having them collectively win, is to Ghosh the most important part of the Invincea story. And that success deepens the talent pool of experienced software product entrepreneurs in the greater Washington region, thereby creating a fertile environment for a new generation of successful cybersecurity product companies.

Invincea’s story arc is a reminder that by watching how a creative individual took advantage of the region’s distinct advantages, we learn about a model for a software product start-up path that is easily repeated and scaled.

For the benefit of our nation’s economic future, as well as for our region’s economy, it is a lesson worth learning.

This column first appeared in The Washington Post.

 

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Success comes from awareness of one’s limitations and opportunities, and the willingness to see how actions influence others. Now is the time for the greater Washington region to challenge itself to look in the mirror and spot its weaknesses and act accordingly.

Yes, the business community must get ready to pivot.

We know all too well the strong connection between our local economy and the federal government. The proximity has been our region’s biggest strength, and yet sometimes its largest burden. The magnitude and diversity of our business community is often obscured by the “business of government” when outsiders view our region. The ability to generate significant wealth by serving the government represents a large portion of our activity, and we have embraced that.

However, for those concerned with the future of our region and its ability to generate high-paying jobs, the complex relationship between our business community and the government has long been a concern. For years, we’ve been identifying and promoting opportunities to divert our economy away from the shadow of government.

Sequestration was a strong reminder that our reliance on the federal government could have adverse effects. As federal spending fell, our region’s high value job employment stagnated. For a time, new employment in greater Washington lagged behind other metropolitan areas, and that’s when a broad cross-section of business leaders and politicians finally stood up and took notice.

The message was clear: greater Washington needed to diversify its economy and lessen its reliance on and interdependence with the federal government.

Business groups took up this message, reports were commissioned, plans were made and everyone agreed that something had to be done to address this pressing issue.

Sadly, as the specter of sequestration passed from the public consciousness, the urgency to make changes also passed. Some argue that our region has diversified. Others believe the lesson to be learned is that even if federal spending shrinks for a time, things eventually return to normal.

 

Professor Stephen Fuller, one of the leading thinkers on our local economy, last week pointed out that economic diversification hasn’t accelerated. In fact, the data show that the reverse is true. In a sobering report, he describes how the seven industrial clusters most likely to create new high value-added jobs in our community are not growing the way they must. Our reliance on federal government spending continues, and we are falling behind in our need to create high-value employment.

Meanwhile, there are clear indications that the federal government’s spending in the region could be at risk. The Trump administration has signaled plans for a federal hiring freeze. Entire government agencies could be downsized or eliminated. True, indications are that national security spending will increase. However, it is impossible to predict whether the net effect of these trends will create more or less federal spending in our region.

I believe that questions of how to cut our dependency on the federal government will become more pressing. Fuller’s research reminds us that we as a region must be more nimble — ready to adapt and embrace employment not necessarily linked to the federal government.

Greater Washington is about to have its pivotal moment. Will it be ready?

This column was originally posted at WashingtonPost.com.

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With the current adulation for the business prowess that got Donald Trump elected to the highest office in the land, we perpetuate our tendency to celebrate the success of growing a new business and turning a huge profit. We lionize entrepreneurs and business leaders and, in so doing, miss a key determinant in what makes a person or business a success.

By focusing on the “victory lane” we are misled into believing that success was somehow inevitable for those who won. We lump together those who succeed by choosing a single path and never veer from it and those who are forced to pivot and adapt along the way. In doing so, we obscure a key distinction.

Undoubtedly, these are always fun stories to hear. Who doesn’t like to dream about their own triumph through the success stories of others? However, to learn from success, the lesson comes not by focusing on the outcome, but rather how successful people got there.

In the arc of a career or a business, inevitability of success does not exist. It requires hard work, some luck and the match between demand for what you have and your ability to provide it. Some fortunate people have a path that never wavers and the demand and supply match-up occurs and is sustained. However, for most of us, somewhere along the way we must modify our path and pivot to get there.

Pivoting increases the number of opportunities in the lifetime of a person or business to find the perfect profitable match-up. It’s a skill that increases the likelihood of success.

Interestingly, a person’s ability to pivot can be predicted long before the need to pivot occurs. In a society where we are looking for the next winners, recognition of this trait is essential. Look for two important personal attributes: self-awareness and empathy.

Self-awareness is the ability to look outside of oneself, and see yourself as others see you. You can’t act on new information effectively unless you are able to see its effect on you. Self-awareness is the core to adaptation — unless you understand why you act in a certain way, you cannot act differently.

Empathy is the ability to perceive how your actions affect those around you. It creates a feedback loop, where you measure your actions and subsequent reactions. For example, the concept of understanding your customer and making something your customer wants, relies heavily on this cycle.

The world shaping our careers and businesses is increasingly unpredictable and changeable. The likelihood that any of us will have an unwavering path to entrepreneurial and career success is less and less likely. Winners will be those who adapt and learn from their mistakes. For those who can pivot, chances of success increase dramatically.

This column originally appeared at WashingtonPost.com.

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I am struck by two conversations our nation is having about the future of the American worker: protecting American manufacturing jobs and the application of artificial intelligence in business. I believe the two are related.

President Trump has shown his ability to use the bully pulpit to make U.S.-based manufacturing jobs a high priority. Overturning years of orthodoxy, plans are being made to slap tariffs on imported items. Congress is considering giving preferential tax treatment to U.S. businesses that manufacture products domestically, and penalizing companies that import items.

Trump’s strong public push for bringing American jobs back home is having a visible effect. A rush of announcements from businesses such as Softbank, Carrier and Fiat promise to put Americans to work through investments. Others such as General Motors are playing catch-up in this rapidly changing political climate, fearing criticism if their company’s investment decisions benefit foreign workers.

Meanwhile, technologists are warning us that artificial intelligence will steal tens of millions of jobs from humans, accentuating the reality started by the introduction of computer hardware, software and robots decades ago.

The pace of job substitution that has occurred over the last 30 years will be dramatically accelerated, as will the diversity of the types of jobs eliminated. This shift is a big deal. For example, a recent White House study on the potential effect of artificial intelligence on employment suggests that up to half of jobs currently being done by humans will eventually be carried out by machines.

The Trump administration may face an interesting dilemma: how to promote new jobs — particularly in the manufacturing industry — when technologies continue to emerge to make current jobs obsolete.

Early indications are that President Trump will indeed be able to influence businesses to use American labor. And, it is certainly true that he can further influence behavior through more drastic actions involving tariffs or tax policies. But businesses won’t stop pursuing economic efficiency. And American consumers might not embrace paying higher prices just to protect local employment.

What is lost in the current conversation is the reason jobs have gone overseas in the first place, or disappeared through application of technology. Both alternatives were cheaper than employing American workers. Businesses acting in their own narrow economic interests have done what businesses always do — they seek efficiency.

Actions have consequences, and societies can make choices. There is nothing determinative about how technology is to be applied. As recently as last week, the CEOs of IBM and Microsoft both emphatically argued that artificial intelligence can be used to enhance human employment, rather than substitute it.

Similarly, merely maintaining a job in the United States does not in itself mean it will provide a living wage, or ancillary benefits. The manufacturing jobs of old carried wages and benefits significantly higher on an inflation-adjusted basis than many of the jobs being created in business today.

As our new president uses his influence, my wish is he and his advisors appreciate that creating the jobs our citizens want and ensuring that good jobs continue to exist, is about more than simply looking at trade and manufactured goods. It’s about making choices.

We must have an honest conversation about how to balance economic efficiency with job creation. It’s the determining factor for whether our nation creates opportunities for its workers to enjoy rewarding jobs.

Tariffs will not address this core conversation, and the sooner we acknowledge the intricacies of our employment reality, the better off we will be.

Column originally posted to WashingtonPost.com.

 

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The flow of capital supporting our start-up ecosystem is clogging. At risk is the core activity of venture capital — the conversion of accumulated wealth into innovation. Based on recently released 2016 data, I am concerned.

The strong relationship between businesses that grow rapidly and the availability of venture capital cannot be understated. Over the last 20 years, almost $190 billion have been invested in Internet businesses, while $150 billion were invested in healthcare businesses. Most technology products we take for granted today were fostered in some way by that flow of funding, as were many of the highest-paying jobs in our nation. But that flow must travel in two directions: first to the businesses in need of funds, and then back to the investors as profits. Therein lies the problem.

Last year, investors committed $41 billion to new venture capital funds. This was a 10-year high, and the third-highest annual commitment in history.

Meanwhile, previously raised venture funds deployed $101 billion in new capital to growing businesses in 2016. This was down from a peak of more than $130 billion in 2015. Both years were exceptionally high against historical trends.

Presently, 184 tech start-ups valued at more than $1 billion (so-called “unicorns”) have not been able to return cash to their investors. And, it is not just for unicorns. For all venture capital funded start-ups, the necessary recycling of cash is slowing.

There is a growing disconnect between capital coming into technology businesses, and the ability of the financial markets to provide exits. An exit gives a business owner a way to reduce or eliminate his or her stake in the business — it’s the moment owners and investors can cash in. A recent article in Bloomberg suggested that at current exit activity levels, it could take 14 years for every one of today’s unicorns to provide an exit for their investors. Perhaps they are indicative of a larger, longer-term problem.

Something has got to give. Either exits will need to pick up dramatically, or venture capital investors will be disappointed.

My sense is that we are at the end of long-term growth cycles surrounding the disruption of media and communication, and a corresponding explosion in drug discovery through biotechnology. As emerging businesses disrupted what was there before, much money was made and new market champions emerged.

These new winners have in many instances surpassed their forbearers in market power and economic concentration. Industries such as healthcare, media and software have become highly concentrated and are dominated by a relatively small number of companies.

But now, the disruptors themselves might need to become the disrupted for our economy to grow.

Where will this disruption come from? In software and media, from the acceleration of commercialization of artificial intelligence. Progress in this industry is ever more visible in the cars we won’t drive and home appliances we will turn on through voice commands. In healthcare, it will come from a greater understanding of the human genome and personalized medicine. Soon, useful lifespans will expand for those fortunate enough to afford revolutionary healthcare.

Meanwhile, it’s becoming clearer that for many investments, exits will simply not occur. The venture capital industry must rapidly change its industrial focus to truly invest in what is new and disruptive. Its ability to pivot will be a determinant for how quickly disruption and new growth can occur in our core technology industries.

Failure to make this pivot will result in a continued hindrance in the flow of venture capital, and if it slows to a trickle, our economy will suffer.

Column originally published in Washington Post.

 

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While helping to frame the United States Constitution, James Madison wrote “if men were all angels, no government would be necessary.” In his opinion, good government depended upon the concept that individual self-interest shouldn’t undermine the public good.

The incoming Trump Administration will place an unprecedented number of billionaires and successful business people in leadership roles — many of whom will have an ongoing personal financial interest in the country’s economic and foreign policies. Where to draw the line between the personal interests of those serving in government and the common good is on the mind of many.

Insights gained by growing a business help create concrete understanding of the many impediments and opportunities that shape success. For instance, a company navigates many federal, state and local regulations all while management motivates and develops employees, sells to customers and shares a clear and inspiring vision.

For complex industries, business leaders have a deep understanding of their inner workings. For a thorough explanation of how a complex financial derivative works, or how machine learning can replace a customer support employee, ask the leader of the related business. The insights gained from business success and mastering the complexity of key industries certainly makes a successful person an attractive candidate for managing a federal agency or creating new policies for the economy.

Moreover, wealthy Americans are seen by many as less likely to use a government position to seek personal advantage. They are seen as incorruptible because they can serve the public interest free from the need to gather resources to provide for their family.

So insight, experience and perceived incorruptibility could justifiably lead us to conclude that having more business leaders in government is a good thing. Indeed, many who voted for Donald Trump were drawn specifically to his business success.

The big issue, however, is not qualification, it is the degree to which business people in key leadership roles will be willing to disavow the potential financial self-interest in their government decisions.

If James Madison were alive today, he would likely still ask whether our business leaders are “angelic” enough to serve the public interest.

For close to 250 years, our nation has been governed with Madison’s words in mind. Americans agree that without rules of conduct and disclosure, there’s a risk a political appointee’s or politician’s self-interest takes precedence public interest. Here in the nation’s capital, we are familiar with Federal Acquisition Rules disclosing and avoiding personal gain in contractual transactions, but there are many other examples. Both our economy and government are based on the premise that self-interest must be disclosed and avoided when individuals are asked to exercise their judgement for the good of others.

Unfortunately, Congress and the incoming administration are clearly signaling that principles of disclosure, or the avoidance of personal profit, are of less concern than previously agreed. We are going to have to trust our leaders to find their better nature. However, in an environment where most Americans do not trust our political institutions, having faith might be the toughest challenge we face.

I believe that there is a large opportunity for thoughtful government and new approaches represented by the inclusion of business insight. But, we should expect that those from the business community who choose to serve also understand the enormous responsibility that each will carry — the responsibility to put the public interest ahead of their own.

Will an administration led by business people be the solution for our nation? Only if they are all angels.

Column originally posted in WashingtonPost.com.

Video: SiriusXM’s Forward Thinking Radio, January 9, 2017

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