Tim Draper: Meg Whitman Will Bring Silicon Valley Sensibilities To The State Capitol

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Editor’s note: The following is a guest post and endorsement written by Timothy C. Draper, Founder and a Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Seventy years ago, Stanford grads David Packard and Bill Hewlett took $538 dollars, opened up shop in a Palo Alto garage and, as they say, the rest is history.  Ever since, Silicon Valley has been a place where talent and imagination spur innovation.

It’s hard to believe that just 130 miles from Silicon Valley is Sacramento, home to what has to be among the nation’s most dysfunctional state governments; a place where partisan gridlock and status quo-thinking produce inertia.

The most successful companies that have sprung from the valley have each exhibited a unique mix of visionary leadership, efficient teamwork, and timely execution of bold plans.

In the valley, we see complex problems as opportunities, a reason to try something different and take a new road. In Sacramento, they see complex problems as obstacles, an excuse to stick with the old ways and never rock the boat.

It’s time for fundamental change in Sacramento. Today, we could use a big dose of the innovative valley mindset in state government.  We need a leader who has a plan and the skills and talent to execute. We need a leader like Meg Whitman.

I served on the state’s Board of Education and can say with authority that California is broken.  The budget is in disarray, and there is a disturbing lack of accountability.  Our schools are failing our children, and the business climate is driving companies out of state.  This status quo is unsustainable.

I’m supporting Meg Whitman because she is the only candidate who has the fortitude and forward thinking to get Sacramento out of its downward spiral.

Meg knows firsthand from building a start-up into a Fortune 500 company that no organization will reach its full potential without a thoughtful and thorough plan of action. Meg has a plan for California, and on Day One she will put the wheels in motion to begin changing the way business is done in Sacramento.  This plan is realistic and achievable, not the usual pie-in-the-sky, election-cycle political promises.  Her vision represents a pathway to substantive change in California.

Through her years at the helm of eBay, Meg exhibited the rare character traits that are seen only in the most effective leaders.  Her ability to build a consensus amongst a diverse group of stakeholders while still forging ahead with the tough decisions is something that is sorely lacking in our government.  True leaders will bring people together to follow as they lead by example, putting in the hard work needed to succeed.

Meg also knows well such a big task requires a talented team. The best leaders are the ones who know how to effectively hire the best and the brightest.  Meg knows how to find the right people for the right job and create the environment in which they can thrive. Sacramento is a place where political appointments are made on the basis of campaign promises and backroom deals. Meg has a plan in place to fill her administration with only the best and the brightest, and she plans to recruit private and public-sector candidates with track records of consistent success. We are long past the point where we can tolerate failure at any level.

Another best practice that Meg will bring to Sacramento is her detailed, results-driven management style.  For too long there has been no accountability in California’s government.  We reward people for longevity rather than performance.  Meg has pledged to set standards and goals for all departments and agencies, and then do the follow up — measuring results and holding people accountable.

In business, employees are held accountable for their performance through regular reviews. Managers are, in turn, held accountable to shareholders every quarter, reporting their progress in executing the business plan in quarterly earnings statements. Government workers and programs must be evaluated on the results they deliver, as well.

There’s no question that Meg is the right person to bring this type of accountability to government; it is in her CEO fiber.

I watched Meg lead eBay for many years.  She may have been recruited there initially for her marketing skills, but she’s become a visionary valley leader with the full breadth of talents.

I am excited about this election.  For the first time in recent memory, we have the opportunity to elect a different kind of leader, one who is a planner, an innovator and has the chops to deliver what she promises.

California is on a path that is unsustainable, and unless we make significant changes, our government will collapse under its own weight.  Meg is a Silicon Valley business leader who is well equipped to use those best traits to turn Sacramento on its head. It’s time to bring some Silicon Valley sensibilities to the state Capitol.

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