Shanty Town

It’s not near Cape Town or Karachi, not even Skid Row— nothing like that scale or density of population, but in this home town of mine, San Jose, California, homelessness has over the years become a societal problem on the rise.

The pandemic has only made it worse.

Vast disparities of income versus the cost of living is part of it. Mental health issues are part of it. And with the pandemic, pretty suddenly many whole could just make it, can’t anymore. And so they live in their car, maybe, or under an overpass, or in a shanty.

In this wealthiest of regions in this wealthiest of nations, how can this be so? And how can we fix it?

Can we agree that it should be fixed? That we are better than that, that we can do better than that. Let’s figure it out. Let’s make it better.

We can do this. We are called to do this. Love your neighbor as yourself. love your neighbor as yourself.

People Helping People

It’s a simple idea. People helping people. It’s a simple act. Anyone can do it.

It’s an easy choice. If someone needs help and you can help them, do so.

If each of us took this approach, things would be different in our neighborhoods, in our communities, states, countries, different for the better, in our workd

People helping people. An example? A handful of people with an understanding of where there is excess food, and how the redistribute it, to people in need, people who would otherwise be hungry…those handful of people provided for near 200 families today.

It was inspiring; it was humbling to be a part of that effort today. It was simple. People helping people.

Let’s all do a little more of that. Amen. AMEN.

Compromise 2

The way forward.

Compromise.

“Not every disagreement on every issue requires a war; that’s not reasonable; that’s not responsible leadership.

We elect our leaders to govern; we expect our leaders to govern.

If you’re not protecting our people and moving our society forward, you’re not governing. You’re not doing your job.

The Gang of Six, 2018.

The Gang of Eight, 2013.

The Grand Bargain, 2007.

Consider the art, the duty, of compromise. I believe it’s a fundamental trait we humans possess, and must adhere to, to co-exist in the world. We are a social species, which means we are meant to live together.

To live together, in this world, in this country, in our community, in our family, we must hone the skill and willingness to compromise.

Compromise: the path forward.

What is a President?

Talking about the top elected official of our Executive Branch, the President is the CEO of the country.

The President is the ultimate servant leader, elected to set policy, make decisions for the betterment of the people, and the Commander in Chief empowered to protect the citizenry and our land.

The President’s duty is to the Constitution, and to the people. To serve and to protect the people. ALL THE PEOPLE

Here’s the text, the following Presidential Oath or Affirmation:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

And usually closed out with…”so help me God.”

With these words an ordinary person is given tremendous power for a time, entrusted by the people to fulfill the oath.

And then often, and maybe quickly, and maybe frequently, things get muddy, and things get murky.

But the work of the President, it’s Sacred Duty. Sacred Duty.

Presidents and People

It’s a big world out there: more than 7 billion people, on 7 continents, more than 200 countries all told.

Who leads? It depends. In the United States, we have something like a democracy. And so in this political system who leads formally? Depends on who wins the election.

Who follows? Everyone else.

The thing is, at least in the United States, those who become president, he or she, has pretty close to an ultimate power while in office,

And then they become regular citizens again, once the term is completed.

Presidents, and all leaders, in the US and everywhere, they should be, and are, just people like everyone else.

Presidents in their best moments, give themselves to their office, to their people who they are elected to serve.

That ultimate power, it’s to be used to serve, to further the common good.

Let it be so. Let it be so.

More Props

I just heard a piece on the radio about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the diversity of their coaching leadership. It’s expanded my appreciation for the team and my attitude about that team, Tom Brady joining the team, and their victory in Super Bowl LV.

Listening to Rod Graves, executive Director of the Fred’s Pollard foundation, it all comes quickly into focus. Lots of good from the Tampa Bay organization, their approach, their leadership, their victory.

Some of the insight came from this piece:

“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers And Diversity In The Upper Ranks Of An NFL Franchise”

And here, the proof in the staff:

https://www.buccaneers.com/team/coaches-roster/

Then more insight from Rod Graves, ED of the Pollard Foundation, and about them, here:

https://www.fritzpollard.org/fritz-pollard

Bottom line?

More props, more GOOD. Let the colors wash together, let the very best rise to the top.

Spontaneous Reflection: COVID

So much has changed since COVID came to us, so much, in so many ways, so many ways, yet the challenge, the tragedy, maybe more fundamental.

How many people infected, millions upon millions upon millions more. So many millions we really can’t comprehend.

And the deaths, in this American country alone, three hundred and fifty thousand —- 350,000 —- and climbing still, more and more and more. Current trend has north of three thousand —- +3,000 —- dying, EVERY DAY, more each and every day. It was + 3,000 that died on 9/11, and we were outraged, OUTRAGED, and we’ve been at war ever since,

But with COVID, are we outraged at the response, the failed response of our federal government to help us, so fewer people suffer? So fewer people die,,,? Where is the outrage?

A fundamental debate in this country is “more government” versus “less government”. This COVID time, overwhelming our people, killing our people, this is the sort of circumstance where we need government to help and to lead. It’s like a war. It’s like an invader has come to our shores and threatens our very existence as a society. We would not respond separately. We would have to respond together to overcome the foe.

COVID is such a foe.

But it will not win. We won’t let it win. We cannot let it win.

Navalny

Democracy is for all humanity, at least it should be, in my humble opinion.

One country in which democracy has long struggled is Russia.

One voice that resonates from within? Alexei Anatoliovich Navalny.

He has become maybe the most powerful voice calling for an end to corruption and more transparency in the Russian political system, policies, and decisions therein.

He was poisoned in Russia last year; flown to Germany for treatment; there, he recovered. There he could have stayed, safe in self-imposed exile.

But he did not. His place is in Russia. His home is Russia. And there he must do his work.

He flew back to Russia with his wife last week. And he was swiftly arrested at the airport.

The charges? Money-laundering. Six years ago. The details? Murky. What’s not murky?

Navalny’s steady voice of opposition in a country long characterized by a heavy, authoritarian hand against said opposition.

Well more than 10,000 protestors across all of Russia’s vast timezones protested for Navalny’s release on Saturday. More than a thousand were arrested.

His voice, and all such peaceful but very critical voices need to be heard. When the people‘s voice is silenced, it must be supported from all sides, allowing it to resonate.

Let Navalny’s voice be heard.

More on Navalny? Yep.

Straight from Wikipedia: Navalny, (born 4 June 1976) is a Russian opposition leader, politician, lawyer and anti-corruption activist. He came to international prominence by organizing demonstrations, and running for office, to advocate reforms against corruption in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Putin’s government.

And the link to the whole wiki-profile, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexei_Navalny?wprov=sfti1

And the article about his arrest, here: https://globalnews.ca/news/7595321/alexei-navalny-putin-protests-explainer/amp/

Let Navalny’s voice be heard.

Another Voice for Change

After MLK Jr. Day, after all the many situations and examples and tragedies that have been freshly brought to light of late around racial inequality, and the many things we need to do to change things for the better…

I came across these two posts from one of my more favorite voices on social media. Fred Wilson.

He’s a business guy, a big money guy, but he’s also got one of the best perspectives and voices and balance to social and economic and cultural topics I am aware of. He’s no B.S., and he’s worth listening to.

And so though I have a couple hundred followers on WordPress, and six hundred some followers on Twitter, and Fred Wilson has more than six hundred thousand followers on Twitter – point being he’s got plenty of social media reach -?I’m going to share these two posts anyway. Because I agree with his remarks and I want to elevate them.

This is a guy whose making a difference on a lot of levels, including racial / social justice in these United States of America. Thanks, Fred ~

He wrote:

JAN 18, 2021

Six Months Later

In early June, I wrote this post explaining that I and we need to do more to reduce the inequality issues for Black people in tech, venture capital, and startups.

I think MLK day is a good time to talk about what has happened since that post.

We have identified a number of areas where we must do better:

  • Increase the number of Black founders we back
  • Increase the number of Black team members at USV
  • Increase the number of Black VCs we work with and support
  • Increase the number of Black board members in our portfolio
  • Increase the number of Black leaders in our portfolio
  • Increase the number of Black employees in our portfolio
  • Increase the number of Black engineers in our portfolio
  • Increase the number of Black investors in our funds
  • Increase the number of Black college graduates going into tech, venture capital, and startups
  • Create pathways for Black students to study STEM and find their way into careers in tech, venture capital, and startups

We have ongoing projects, workstreams, investments, and efforts in each and every one of these areas and we have made tangible progress in almost all of them.

I believe that the inequity issues are so severe and deeply rooted that it will take a concerted effort over a number of years to truly erase them.

But we are making progress and if we keep at it, across many dimensions, we can get where we need to go. Roughly 15% of Americans are Black. Until we can look around the room and see at least one Black person for every six in the meeting, we haven’t done enough. Today is a good day to remind ourselves of that and recommit to the work that needs to happen.

Jeff Interlude: And before that one, he wrote this one:

JUN 4, 2020

Black Lives Matter

I believe that Black lives matter.

I understand that the phrase Black lives matter speaks to a movement to stop the murders of Black people at the hands of the police. I also understand that it speaks to a broader protest movement seeking to reduce the unchecked power of the police. I support these efforts and am sympathetic to them.

But the words Black lives matter mean even more to me.

They mean that a Black person’s life matters as much as any other person’s life.

They mean that the living situation of a Black person matters as much as anyone’s living situation.

They mean that the food a Black person eats matters as much as the food anyone eats.

They mean that the health care that a Black person has matters as much as the health care anyone has.

They mean that the education a Black person has matters as much as anyone’s education.

And they mean that the economic opportunity that a Black person has matters as much as anyone’s economic opportunity.

My record and that of the USV is poor on that last measure.

We have spent much of the last week at USV talking about that and we talked about it publicly on our blog and Twitter yesterday.

When the collective minds at USV focus on something we have always met our goals.

While we are late to put our collective minds on this opportunity, we are not too late. And we have already started our work on it.

We will do this the way we do everything at USV. We will stick to our thesis of access to capital, knowledge, and well-being. We will back teams that are working on these problems in ways we think are impactful. And we will be engaged, honest, and present in the work.