December 31, 2022 sunset viewed from White Street Pier, Key West
Catching a beautiful end of the year ocean sunset with my family triggered thoughts about what I would take from the year just finished. Some of those reflections were already kicking in with the first dawn of the new year.
2022 had its mix of ups and downs
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early in the year got my attention in a big way. Many visits in prior years to my ancestral homeland of neighboring Slovakia stoked awareness and concerns – including memories from the 80’s while visiting family under Soviet subjugation. It doesn’t get grimmer than war, but Putin is only part of the alarming trend of autocracy filling voids created by failures to evolve democratic institutions.
Closer to home, the biggest chunk of my energy last year was devoted to non-partisan Unite NY seeking to build support for reforming democratic processes in New York State. This included work aimed at establishing a state wide minor party ballot line and helping candidates for office aligned with our agenda. Notwithstanding a consuming effort, our approach failed to produce results we set out to achieve in the 2022 election cycle.
While I remain a large shareholder, retiring from the board of directors in May ended my tenure with roles at TriNet. At one level, it was hard to step away from being involved in the company Krista and I began 34 years ago. A journey rich with experience and relationships impacting my family and many others who’ve worked hard building a company to last. But the timing was right, and I have complete confidence in both management and our board to move on while achieving what should be every entrepreneur’s goal to work myself out of a job!
For 23 – Continue building, but with some new twists
Watching the sun rise on January 1 brought deep gratitude for the many lucky breaks I’ve been fortunate to receive, as well as optimism for what’s ahead in this new year.
Good health and a loving family are foundations I will never take for granted.
Teams growing around me are getting increasingly capable of driving progress across our social impact and community ventures. This helps transition me towards being more strategic and governance oriented while still having fun finding and engaging with new people who can help us.
With intentions to steer clear from any perceptions of partisanship, we decided that Unite NY will now drop all involvement in supporting candidates. We’re focused exclusively on building voter awareness and engagement to address systemic issues driving political dysfunction. In addition to independent polling, expanded media coverage and growing member development, we’ll be advancing our partnerships with state and national organizations similarly aimed at pragmatic solutions providing incentives for officials to put voters ahead of party interests.
Entrepreneurs Across Borders will be my primary focus in 2023. While our pilot in Jamaica was hampered by Covid restrictions since early 2020, we’re now progressing to show we can scale up connecting entrepreneurs in underdeveloped countries to resources within our network of in country and U.S. based seasoned entrepreneurs. A week long visit in December opened up many new doors with high impact relationships enthused about joining the effort. My joining the Endeavor WNY board also jumpstarted insights on best practices to aspire to. Combined with an expanded team, EAB is now in go mode for ramping up.
So let me know if either reforming democracy or alleviating poverty by helping entrepreneurs in underdeveloped markets might be social impact areas of interest to you. Both movements are still in nascent stages but have some footing to show the potential for impacting many lives.
Your reflection is as high-level and eloquent as I have always known you to be. Regarding your political aspirations, I would say that I have faith you will find a way to drive voter engagement. Conversely, I wish you luck attempting to put voter interests ahead of party interests and agendas. I lack faith in politics across the board.
In terms of your amazing journey to help those less fortunate embrace entrepreneurship, I would say that even helping one person succeed and possibly lift their whole family out of poverty is fuel enough. If your focus ever turns to Puerto Rico, let’s talk. I also didn’t forget to reach out the next time I am in the Cortland or Rochester area.
Hi Bill –
Thanks for the note and insightful comments. Here are a couple of thoughts in response:
People over Party interests: As you know, early in 2016 I was in the same frame of mind as you describe. Running for Congress as an independent candidate was every bit the educational experience I expected, along with shaping my outlook on the need for change. Even though I will not be a candidate for public office, along with a few hardy and committed volunteers from the campaign, we continued the journey of contributing towards changing the dysfunctional political system affecting us all.
January 6th was the wakeup call to double down on that effort, leading us to affiliate with other like minded non-partisan democracy reform organizations including a national coalition coordinated by Unite America. Their description of The Primary Problem shines strong light on the troubling landscape, but it is the growing strength of the coalition giving me optimism about momentum building for realistic solutions already starting to be deployed in some states.
Entrepreneurs Uplift Communities & Alleviate Poverty: Your observation about entrepreneurs uplifting those around them is the foundational belief behind starting both Upstate Venture Connect and now Entrepreneurs Across Borders. You’ll see a post coming up about why we chose Jamaica for the EAB pilot, but safe to say once we prove the model we aim to expand outward in the Caribbean and LatAm. We’re aware of the strong Endeavor presence in Puerto Rico – so much yet to be explored.
Both movements are long term plays. Having been through this a few times, I can share that it makes all the difference in going boldly towards areas no crowd is yet rushing to. This is what entrepreneurs do.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Meade
Good post–I for one am excited to see what we can achieve with EAB in 2023. (As well as with UMF). #EAB #UMF Also, a little bummed that I missed that sunset!