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Buried under a difficult week of news about race and violence in this country was a big economic story. The U.S. stock market traded at historical highs, and yet as recently as two weeks ago, many market observers were warning of a recession. Here’s why this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Look around the world and the reality is that there simply isn’t a better place for investors right now. Thanks to former British prime minister David Cameron, the European Community will now suffer through a two-year Hamlet-like grappling by the English of how to handle Brexit. The United Kingdom’s economy is in neutral. Meanwhile, the Euro continues to operate as a fiscal hammer lock on the economies of Greece, Italy, Portugal and the other EU countries not named Germany.

China’s economy is propped up by a …

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I am often asked which of my life experiences prepared me most to be an entrepreneur. The answer: being in a rock band.

Certainly, I have had many experiences that have shaped me. My parents and grandparents were all business owners and when your entire family is supported by small businesses, you tend to grow up expecting to make money the same way.

My father’s sudden death in my early 20s set me on the path of understanding the fragility of life, and ensured I didn’t pass up opportunities to enjoy new experiences and growth.

Stories like this help us understand why someone becomes an entrepreneur but not necessarily what it’s like to be one.

Which brings me to rock and roll.

Musicians come together as a group of previously disconnected people to…

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The mythology of origins is a hallmark of every nation. Whether it was two brothers raised by a wolf or the founding fathers, a nation’s sense of itself is based on a shared story of its birth.

Consider the Fourth of July, a moment when we celebrate and retell our story. Buried within our expectations of fireworks, hotdogs and picnics, we are encouraged to take a moment to look back at our nation’s establishment.

We speak about freedom, democracy and liberty. Core values derived from our nation’s creation, the words have a talismanic nature; we feel them deeply. The words resonate and define us as a group.

Yet, across the United States of America, as we recite and recall these founding concepts, we don’t all see them the same way. We share the story of the founding fathers — yet over the generations, our national identity has apparently frayed.

Our current political discourse about freedom and rights is illustrative. Whether discussing business, religion, guns, or heath care, our national conversation eventually leads to fundamental disagreement.

Often, the differing views stem from…

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The United Kingdom’s elections are often a leading indicator for our own, as is evidenced with the emergence of conservatism, centrist liberalism and fiscal austerity. Last week’s emphatic decision to leave the European Community could be the next one.

In some ways, it was predictable. Think about the psychological underpinnings of the European Union: In the 1950s, a consensus formed in Germany and France that to prevent further wars, Germany had to be closely tied to its neighbors. At the same time, Germans feared inflation was the incipient cause of its decline.

These two factors have driven behavior in Europe since then. France and Germany enjoyed closer economic integration, and that alleviated Germans’ fear of inflation. That bonding trend spread across the continent, explaining the desire for open borders between EU member nations. The union produced regulations promoting uniformity of labor markets and the austerity movement designed to help Europe recover from the 2008 recession. However, the EU, while offering solutions for its members has also created fundamental problems.

Immigration and government indebtedness have created fault lines in the EU’s strength. It couldn’t…

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Imagine how much happier you would be at tax time if your IRS filing came to you pre-populated with your income and deductions, so all you had to do was sign and wait for your refund. Or, if you could apply for disability payments and arrange for direct deposit over the Internet. How about being able to start a new company online in minutes? Wouldn’t you like to be able to discover when your personal data was accessed by a government employee?

Estonians can do things like this. But not us Americans.

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I shared my views on business growth during a talk with entrepreneurs in Hawaii last week. Far away from Washington, D.C., I learned from my audience several very important things about our region’s place in entrepreneurship and innovation.

The first thing that struck me was how our capital region has a powerful influence on many of the innovators I met. Forever Oceans , a company offering high-tech ways to curb overfishing and foster sustainability, was seeded by significant federal funding. It uses technology spun out of Lockheed Martin, one of the largest government contractors in our region.

Etaphase is a material sciences start-up developing new materials that could dramatically change data transmission and the energy consumption of existing communications equipment. Again, the company was seeded by federal dollars and because the technology has national security benefits, the company has a growing nexus to our region.

The W.M. Keck Observatory atop Hawaii’s dormant Mauna Kea volcano is leading the charge on planet discovery and other major discoveries of the nature of our universe. As recently as last week it was in the news illuminating the nature of galactic expansion. NASA is a partner.

There I was, 4,772 miles from home, yet I kept seeing evidence of just how pervasive Washington’s influence is on technology innovation.

Beyond technology, Hawaiians use another technique entrepreneurs in the greater Washington region have harnessed…

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The Kauffman Foundation, the widely followed nonprofit focused on entrepreneurship, has provided another important validation that the greater Washington region is a business-forming hotspot.

According to the foundation, the greater Washington region is the number one entrepreneurial location in the United States. And, Virginia and Maryland are the number one and number two most entrepreneurial states. Nationally, the areas of entrepreneurship with the most growth are industries where our region has an established ecosystem of growing companies: IT, advertising and marketing, business products and services, healthcare and software.

Given those findings, it is important for us to ask why. Why are we such profitable entrepreneurs here? Which factors make us a success and how do we foster those factors to drive us to heightened success?

It’s not enough for us to…

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Last week I wrote of our region’s need for a Switzerland to allow our various resources and jurisdictions to be freer to compete to serve entrepreneurial innovation. By allowing those promoting entrepreneurial activities to pursue their specific self-interests, entrepreneurs would enjoy greater transparency. They would fully comprehend the motivations of those helping them and the overall level of resources available to entrepreneurs would be raised by the crucible of competition.

This argument has clearly hit a chord because the reactions from our community over the last week has been varied and strong.

Some have asked me whether I am suggesting there is no place for regional cooperation in the District, Maryland and Virginia. I am not. Cooperation among the three jurisdictions that make up the capital region is essential for our economy to grow — particularly in areas where our collective interests are served.

Examples of how regional cooperation is a must…

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Like it or not, the greater Washington region is all about relationships. Our strength as a business community is our interconnections, and our ability to manage the complex interplay between business and policy. Our entrepreneurial community grows businesses through the exchange of information between those two worlds.

In other words, we need to network.

When we do the networking dance well, transactions occur as a result. Once a relationship is established, there is a very good chance it will bear fruit. It might be years from now, or it might be next week, but knowing how to connect with the right people — and be willing to enter into a win-win relationship — inevitably reaps rewards.

Successful networking relies on transparency. Think about how many times you have formed relationships understanding where a person is coming from. We better connect with those who are transparent with us, and who share both their strengths and needs in a candid, open way

You can call this trust. I believe it’s larger than that. I describe it as acknowledgment. By being transparent, you are treating others as respected co-venturers and clearly stating that you value their time. If they choose to engage with you, they know exactly why.

However, here in the greater Washington region, there’s a blurry area where common interests and unspoken goals intersect. Entrepreneurs often sense a conflict as they begin to…

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On May 12, 2016, the D.C.-based 2030 Group — a coalition of influential, local business leaders exploring the potential for growth in the D.C.region — released a detailed, 53-page report about how the D.C.-area can evolve into a strong economic hub for innovative businesses. While progress has been made, the report describes that there is a significant amount of work left to secure the area’s status as a top destination for business, commerce and innovation.

Headed up by Amplifier Ventures’ Jonathan Aberman, the report makes some interesting and important points about how far the D.C. tech scene has come and also what needs to be done so that it succeeds in the future. Alongside this narrative is a methodical series of recommendations poised by the group, which may be applicable to both business owners and policy makers in the region.

Watch highlights of the report’s findings here.

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