Congressman Seth Moulton Talks Startups

Congressman Seth Moulton Talks Startups

Massachusetts representative seeks closer relationship between startups and policymakers.
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Co-written with Evan Engstrom

The American Dream is built on the premise that regardless of who you are or where you’re born, if you work hard you can achieve greatness. Over the past century, entrepreneurs have embodied this ideal. The son of a Syrian migrant created one of the world’s most valuable companies out of his garage in California. Companies that were started in dorm rooms and university labs have changed the way we live and work.

Today, startups are the backbone of our nation’s economy. They drive growth and innovation, create jobs, and transform communities. According to research by the Kauffman Foundation, small, young firms have created an average of 1.5 million jobs per year over the past three decades, accounting for nearly all net new job growth. Fortunately, this growth is no longer limited to traditional tech hubs like Silicon Valley. It is happening all over the country. In towns across America—from Salem to Nashville to San Diego—new startup hubs are rising, capitalizing on local assets to bring ideas to life and transform local economies.

There is a growing recognition that creating a national and local environment where startups can thrive and scale is critical. While a great idea creates a foundation, fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem that connects startups with partners in education, investment, and government is essential to transforming that idea into reality. There is an increasing awareness in Congress that pushing policies that foster startup innovation brings new businesses and jobs to their districts.

Still, a gap between startups and policymakers remains. Many members of Congress are not aware of the enormous impact these young companies are having in their own districts. On the other side, many startups are not aware of the outsized impact that government policies and resources can have on their chances at success. Startups help to bridge this gap, but nothing compares to a direct relationship between an elected official and his or her constituents.

As a former entrepreneur and current member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and as the head of a non-profit organization that works tirelessly to amplify the voice of startups in D.C., we recognize the tremendous importance of building a lasting dialogue between policymakers and startups. That’s why we were excited to partner with a number of other organizations and the members of the Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the fourth-annual Startup Day Across America, which took place last week.

On August 4, dozens of members of Congress participated in events with entrepreneurs, incubators, and accelerators to celebrate the ingenuity and innovation taking place in their districts and states. In cities and towns around the country, elected officials had the chance to see firsthand how startups are leveraging the power of technology to develop new products and services at an unprecedented rate and drive economic growth in their districts. At these same events, entrepreneurs had the opportunity to showcase their work and tell policymakers how and why supportive policies make a difference.

In Massachusetts, we organized a roundtable discussion that featured an impressive group of local entrepreneurs that highlighted how startup companies in the Sixth District are creating jobs and producing innovative products to solve real-world challenges.

Entrepreneurs often take substantial financial risks in order to get a business off the ground, and it is critical that local entrepreneurs have the support of their elected representatives.

Whether it’s a tour of a local incubator, a demo from a startup, or simply a phone call with an entrepreneur in your district, these important conversations don’t just have to take place on a single day in August. We encourage lawmakers to schedule conversations with startups throughout the year and consistently connect and build relationships with the innovators driving economic growth in their communities. From protecting net neutrality to finding ways to drive capital to diverse entrepreneurs, lawmakers have the power to craft and champion policies that support startups. It’s critical that policymakers make an effort to understand what those policies are, according to the startups creating change right in their own backyards. And who knows—one of us may meet the next Steve Jobs, chasing the American Dream from his or her very own garage.

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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