FiscalNote and Congress – Why it’s a “Must Have.”

Well over a year ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the team at FiscalNote. Their business was just getting off the ground then. They introduced me to their product, Prophecy, and I was sold immediately. Essentially, FiscalNote has simplified, streamlined and reinvented bill research and tracking. It didn’t take me long to realize that every Congressional office should be using FiscalNote’s Prophecy. For many Adobe Photoshop PDFCongressional and government staff, bill research is a tedious task – and, made even more difficult due to a general lack of good research tools. Current tools on the market are expensive, so many offices forgo those tools due to tight budgets. FiscalNote changes the game and provides cutting-edge technology, instant access to information, analytical tools, for a fraction of the cost of other competing products. I am proud of iConstituent’s exclusive relationship with FiscalNote in the US Congress. I am highly confident that the FiscalNote team will continue to develop a compelling product that will eventually be used by hundreds of Congressional offices.

Why I Love Los Angeles!

I recently launched a new blog, “Why I Love LA” for former Mayor of Los Angeles, Richard Riordan. The blog provides the former Mayor with a means to easily reach the people of Los Angeles with a positive message about our city. “Why I Love LA” will also feature many guest writers who will share their views on Los Angeles. Our first guest writer is Dr. Ref Rodriguez, one of the founders of Partnerships To Uplift Communities (PUC).

RJR and the dogs

Former Mayor of Los Angeles Richard Riordan and his dogs.

I want my mojo back.

For presentationI meet with start-ups all the time. I am always inspired by them; their energy, enthusiasm and dedication to what they believe in is contagious. I call it the “collective mojo:” when a group of entrepreneurs band together and work endlessly, with the belief that they can create something amazing, powerful, disruptive and additive to humanity. According to Merriam-Webster’s, “mojo” means “a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.” I want my mojo back.

But, the  question is: how do you maintain this drive and entrepreneurial spirit when you’re not a start-up any more? How do you keep your collective mojo?

iConstituent has been around for over ten years now. We have been through many ups and downs along the way. So, how do we get our collective mojo back? – the energy, enthusiasm, and passion to create something new, disruptive and amazing? How do we evolve beyond simple “profit and loss statements, balance sheets and statement of cash flows?”  Basic accounting is obviously important – but, how do we transcend simple dollars and cents, and focus on building great things that people will use and love? And, ultimately become wildly successful?

Regaining your collective mojo starts with the belief that your market (no mater what it is) WILL change. Someone is going to succeed. Why not YOU? Look at the hotel and taxi industry; I find myself using AirBnB and Uber these days – all the time. Twelve months ago, I was “old school,” and simply stayed at hotels or fought for cabs. The world is changing so quickly and so dramatically. These two companies have had such a profound impact on the world in such short periods of time. The government/public sector space will change, too. It has been slowly changing for years, and more rapidly so in recent months, thanks to forward thinking people like Vivek Kundra and many others.

So, how does a company get its collective mojo back? First, it starts with the belief that your  industry will rapidly change and that there remains an abundance of opportunity for those willing to take chances, think “out of the box.”  Who will be the next “Uber” in your space?  Next, you must invest in developing your staff and finding new talent. This is the most important step. By empowering and nurturing talent at iConstituent, and finding more talent to augment our already awesome team, our company will grow; the company’s collective mojo will only come through innovation, which is driven by talent.  Invest in talent, nurture talent, empower talent – and, you will get your mojo back. On this note, I am proud to announce that two of my staff  will take on more responsibility and be empowered to help drive growth at iConstituent: Greg Fickel was recently promoted to Chief Operating Officer and Derek Haller is our VP of Product.


That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

Everyone faces challenges. Everyone suffers set backs. Last week was one of those times for me. However, the experience has increased my determination to succeed – to push harder than ever before. Since last year, I have been working on some very big things at iConstituent – innovation that promises to change the game, give our customers even more power to reach their constituents and level the playing field. The saying “that which does not kill us makes us stronger,” is very true. I will make some exciting announcements soon.  Join me on Twitter to hear them first (#bigviola).

It’s only a matter of time.


DreamForce Conference, 2013

On February 8, 2011, Vivek Kundra, then the U.S. Chief Information Officer, released a ground breaking report, “Federal Cloud Computing Strategy.” In it, he states, “Cloud computing offers the government an opportunity to be more efficient, agile, and innovative through more effective use of IT investments, and by applying innovations developed in the private sector.” Now, over three years later, his assessment was absolutely on target. But, the question is: how fast is the government moving in this direction? I believe that it’s only a matter of time before all branches of government adopt the Cloud for their technology needs. With companies like Microsoft , SalesForce and others pushing the Cloud into the public sector, our business is changing rapidly – and for the better. Companies like iConstituent grow and thrive by providing innovation to the government marketplace, but this is hard to do when companies are forced to provide their services from behind tightly held and highly regulated government firewalls. As we move ahead, this will change; public clouds, such as those provided by SalesForce for their public sector customers – now FISMA and FedRAMP compliant, will compel more government entities to switch. Early adopters of cloud technology such as the Dept. of Education and DOJ have set the stage for other government entities to follow suit. Who stands to benefit the most from increased government adoption of the Cloud? Ultimately, American citizens. Why? Because, the government will be in a better position to leverage private sector innovation to reach and service citizens in a more efficient and less expensive way.