Fight or Flight? Fighting for Our Home

“Silicon Valley is being beaten down by its own success, crushed by soul-sucking commutes, unaffordable homes and homelessness.”

“Silicon Valley is the World’s Epicenter of Innovation, the envy of entrepreneurs everywhere.”

Two statements. Both correct. We each face a simple, yet profound decision. “What do we do?” Fight or Flight?

I believe our Region, our Valley, our Home, is worth fighting for, as do my colleagues at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, who, along with our 350 Member Employers, have determined that 2020 is the Year of Impact.

The recent announcement of my transition as CEO after 23-plus years, means that my focus will be a mix of external and internal impact: To further equip and empower my 32 Leadership Group colleagues to strengthen their considerable skills and traits to better benefit our economy, while building stronger communities.

Our external efforts sharpen our laser-like focus on THEE issues confronting Silicon Valley: T for Traffic; H for Housing and Homelessness; E for Education and Workforce Development; and E for Energy and the Environment.

* T for Traffic: To alleviate traffic, we are championing efforts to build and operate a world-class, integrated, seamless transit system throughout the 9-County Bay Area, to better serve the transit dependent and compelling enough to lure commuters out of their cars. Our FASTER Bay Area initiative, with SPUR and the Bay Area Council, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to achieve this.

* H for Housing & Homelessness: To tackle housing affordability and homelessness, our policy efforts in Sacramento will focus on creating a climate for cities to produce the homes needed so our own kids can afford to live in the communities in which they were raised. Our local efforts will be as a “Voice for the Voiceless” before City Councils when sustainable developments near transit are proposed.

* E for Education & Workforce Development: To equip our kids with the skills to compete for Innovation Economy jobs, our focus will remain on reading comprehension from an early age, and exposure and success in STEM subjects and skills. Our “Community College to Career” initiative with 19 Bay Area Community Colleges, currently serving 360,000 students, is a core way to provide middle and upper middle-class jobs, while building deeper diversity within our companies. 78 percent of community college students are people of color and 54 percent are female. As we equip students, we strengthen our companies, communities and culture.

* E for Energy & the Environment: Finally, we cannot take for granted our natural environment and need for a cleaner, more sustainable energy supply. Everything we envision and accomplish links with our commitment on Climate Change. From Bay protection and flood mitigation, to preservation and expansion of Open Space, a sustainable water supply, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, our two decades of statewide leadership is significant. We must be bolder to meet the threats we face.

Internally, our focus on greater impact is to equip and empower the passionate professionals who every day make a difference at the Leadership Group and the Leadership Group Foundation. We are stepping up our efforts to develop better communication, facilitation, negotiation and political skills, as well as policy knowledge and community-building opportunities. Although we live in a divided and divisive time, we are committed to building bridges, rather than burning them down – lifting others up, not pulling them down.

Here’s our choice: Do we fight for the region we call home, or take flight? We select fight, even if it feels like we are swimming upstream. We hope you will join us. Interested? Email me at

– Carl Guardino, President and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group | February 25, 2020