Todd Schulte

Todd Schulte

President of FWD.us

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 03, 2015

Discussion

Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
Hi, Todd here. I’m the president of FWD.us, an organization founded by leaders in the technology community to give tech values a voice in American politics. At FWD.us, we have focussed on immigration reform first because America's broken system prevents far too many talented immigrants from fully contributing to our communities and our economy in the 21st Century. I previously served as Chief of Staff at Priorities USA Action, the Super PAC supporting President Obama's re-election. I also served as Congressman Scott Murphy's (NY-20) Chief of Staff and worked at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. I currently live in Washington, DC with my beautiful chocolate lab Pippa, even more beautiful wife Lindsey, and our adorable 2 and a half month old baby Sylvia. I’d love to discuss immigration reform, the current state of American politics, and how both fit into the presidential election.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What are you reading right now?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@ems_hodge well a lot is keeping up with immigration because its in the news so much these days. in fact, This article from the San Francisco Chronicle which I really enjoyed reading (and I encourage you to as well) gives a great overview of tech’s position on immigration reform and why silicon valley continues to value and fight for comprehensive immigration reform. This is the type of reading for “pleasure” that I am really doing these days. http://www.sfchronicle.com/busin...
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@thetoddschulte @ems_hodge past that, i am re-reading Chain Reaction, a great great great book by Thomas Edsall about the modern political system. I just re-read (a very very very long great book) called "What It Takes" By Richard Ben Cramer. My favorite political books past those are the Power Broken (about Robert Moses) and the Lyndon Johnson books also by Robert Caro (i mean they're great and really really long), and then Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.
Lejla Bajgoric
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
Thanks for being here :) How do you explain the support that certain politicians like Donald Trump receive for their horrendous views on immigration that seem to completely miss the point organizations like FWD.us are making? How do you convince a Trump supporter to join forces with FWD.us? How do you change minds?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@lejlahunts Great question. Couple of points: 1.) It's really important to stress how different theelectorate in say an Iowa GOP caucus is from a battleground Presidential general election like Florida. It may be that calling for mass deportation helps in getting to 25%/30% of a primary electorate (which is about 20% of the country as a whole), but its completely disqualfiying from a political level to call for something with such horrible, astronomical economic and political costs. In other words, don't conflate your swing voter (we call it persuasion) universe in a battleground state with a caucus goer or early state primary voter.
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@thetoddschulte @lejlahunts 2.) now as to how we do our job? The most important thing is in fact just to talk about the policies: in this case, start by talking about how our immigration system is broken. Whether its a farmer who can't find stable workforce to pick crops or a student with an undocumented partent who doesn't want to go to school everyday with the fear his mother might not be there upon his return, you need to spell out the real human costs to our broken system. And then you should backup this up with data - and I encourage you to checkout our resources page at www.FWD.us
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
I'd be curious to hear what you think of the concept of online voting. I feel like trying to effect large scale political change can feel daunting and most reform issues (education, immigration, campaign finance, etc.) feel mired in complexity and roadblocks. If voting were convenient, quick, and easy I think turn out rates could elevate, changing demographics overnight and bypassing a lot of the gridlock and establishment forces that stifle progressive reform and innovative policy. Curious if you agree or have any thoughts.
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@alexcartaz So in general I think the power of technology to lower barriers of entry has a huge democratizing effect - in a bunch of ways. In our world right now, being able to not only record and share your story through our Built By Immigrants platform tells your friends about it, but in gives them a DIRECT and EASY way to get involved in a cause. Online voting is something I assume will get a lot of attention in the next few years - you're also going to see a lot about motor-voter laws that make it much much easier for people to automatically or very easily register to vote. Generally I think that lowering barriers, in a secure way, to entry in the political process increasing participation, trust, and leads to much better policy outcomes. Obviously there are some pretty big structural problems we face right now. I think its a mistake to say "hey people need to be nicer to one another" or "people used to be so civil" - that is just false, and google Aaron Burr if you disagree. But things are tough right now - and so when we tackle a problem like "how do we take the 75% of Americans who stand with us on immigration reform and turn that into Congress passing a bill" we are tackling a lot of these issues. It starts with raising up the voices that matter to these members of congress and letting them hear directlyf rom these constituents. You have to realize most things are tough in DC these days, and you have to push very very hard every day to make progress, but its why I'm optimsitic we will pass immigration reform in the not too distant future.
Alex Carter
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What is the best pragmatic path to successfully reform immigration in a meaningful way? What can silicon valley founders and investors do to help make this path successful and a reality?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@alexcartaz Hey Alex - great first question (and pls excuse typos!). Let me tell you why we're focus on our 3 principles, which are: 1.) Fix the legal immigration system so it makes sense for today's economy and family - whether its agriculture or manufacturing or tech, we have an immigration system that hasn't been updated since the USSR ceased to exist. We have millions of families kept apart for too long as well. 2.) Sensible border and interior security 3.) A pathway to legal status and citizenship for the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Now here's why this works well together: because if you enforecement without fixing the legal immigration system or without legal status, you end up in a situation where you still have a big economic magnet for peopel to come illegally OR if you do just enforcement first, you end up deporting millions of people who you claim you want to give legal status
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@thetoddschulte @alexcartaz Now in terms of what people can do - the most important thing is NOT whats just happening in DC, but its understanding that there is broad consensus for immigration reform (as outlined above) but we need people to make the case with stories (data is great too) directly to those policy makers...so if its sharing you story on our website at http://app.fwd.us/stories OR sharing a story that you find there DIRECTLY with a policy maker (like a member of congress or a presidential candidate), its really important...and our job at FWD is to build the tools to make that happen. You can check out www.FWD.us
daniellevine
daniellevine@daniellevine · Fireside
@thetoddschulte hey Todd! Thank's for doing this AMA. I'm wondering, what's the best thing you've come across in the last 30 days and why? Could be anything, a product, an article, a tea, a quote. Anything! Thanks for answering.
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@daniellevine so I have a 12 week old (today) baby girl...so the best thing I've come across is in fact changing bedtime from 8pm to 7pm. But past that, on a humorous level. I would strongly advise the following things in life: Comedy Bang Bang the Podcast this theory on Jar Jar Binks - http://darthjarjar.com/ ...from a work perspective, the most interesting thing in the last 30 days is to watch a lot of the groups that have lead the charge AGAINST immigration reform start to realize that they have backed the wrong candidates in the Presidential race. For the first time there are candidates actively supporting rounding up and deporting 12 million undocumented immigrants plsu maybe 5 million more of their family members...and these anti-immigrant groups and opponents of reform have long sought to avoid answer the question "what would you do with the 11.5 million" because they don't want to admit at the end of the day you're either giving them legal status or rounding them up...they've triped into this place and their awful policy positions are really exposed
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello @thetoddschulte thanks for this AMA session. We see a lot of immigrants building a lot of interesting companies in Sillicon Valley . Does this help bring about an immigration reform? What are the barriers you face to make changes on this subject?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@neeeharika yes yes yes yes - seriously I can't stress enough that telling the power of immigrants driving our economy forward is absolutely a gold standard argument we need to make. Please tell all your friends, families - anyone really who wants to be a part of this - to contact us so we can work together
JJ Tang
JJ Tang@jjrichardtang · Product @IBMCloud 🚢
Hey Todd! What is something you believe in that others might think is insane?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@jjrichardtang 1.) LCD soundsystem is the greatest band of the last 25 years 2.) Children of Men is the best immigration film of all time 3.) Mad Max: Fury Road will win the Oscar for Best Film You??
JJ Tang
JJ Tang@jjrichardtang · Product @IBMCloud 🚢
@thetoddschulte Children of Men totally agree! I personally think that failure is not a perquisite for success - of course that can be very subjective depending on the situation.
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@jjrichardtang haha - yes its great. and i agree its not a prerequisite - the learned skill though of being willing to analyze areas for improvement and to set priorities accordingly sometimes is more obvious once you mess up some stuff
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Todd thanks for being here today! During your career to date what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why c) most surprising moment? Thanks!
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@ems_hodge 1.) most challenging; maybe this doesn't count, but the best campaign I was a part of lost...that is not fun. beating back at the waves is unpleasant, to put it mildly. 2.) proudest moment: I met my wife through work and got her to go on a date with me after initially being rejected 3.) most surprising: gonna have to ponder that for a bit
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
hi @thetoddschulte thanks so much for joining us today, would love to hear if you believe the rise of tech is proportional the attention politicians give to the tech space. Tech now makes up a massive part of the economy, do you think this is reflected in enough of political activities and discussions?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@harrystebbings That is in fact central to our mission at FWD - we want to be a place for the tech community to engage in the political process, starting with pushing for immigration reform. So much of the economic growth in this country will come from increasing the opportunities for people to engage in and benefit from this growing knowledge economy (the broad tech economy). It's really, really important though that people engage in the system. You win not by lots of numbers but by mobilizing and finding points of leverage - broad passive support doesn't get the job done.
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
What got you interested in working in politics, and what challenges or situations have kept you hooked and engaged?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@katesegrin I did a little campaign work in high school and college, but after graduating I dove in to a campaign and spent 5 years doing campaigns around the clock until I ended up working on the hill for an incredible member. After Dems got wiped out in 2010 (5 years ago yesterday), i went to help start a Super PAC called Priorities USA to help re-elect Obama. But most improtantly, 2.5 years ago I ended up getting to be a part of FWD.us. I love FWD.us because not only do we get to work an incredibly important issue, but we have an amazing team - whether its our founders like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Ron Conway, Reid Hoffmann and others - or our staff in 7 states across the country.
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Todd. When young children come as immigrants in the US, is there a way for them to continue to learn their native language, history and culture besides their family?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@theo_dimarhos hmm...ok so without being an expert on cultural education, I hope the answer (and think the answer) is absolutely yes. we're a nation of immigrants and that has and always will be a source of real strength
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
@thetoddschulte In the next few years, which states do you see new immigrants going to and from which origin countries? Thanks!
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@theo_dimarhos So don't know for the future, but currently large countries are Mexico, China, India, the Phillipines, Vietnam, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, and Korea...the interesting thing is that is has always evolved very quickly in our history. I strongly encourage you check this excellent visualization of historical immigration patterns; http://www.vox.com/2015/3/19/821...
@thetoddschulte Hi Todd. "FWD.us is mobilizing the tech community in support of policies that keep the American Dream achievable in the 21st century...". I was wondering if you could define or describe the American Dream in your own words.
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@day16 lets build a country where one's commitment, values, and dedication are met with equal opportunity and a strong middle class
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@thetoddschulte @day16 but thats probably too much prose and not enough poetry
Niv Dror
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
Hey @thetoddschulte, thanks for taking the time! If immigration reform is an issue we can deeply about, which one of the realistic Presidential candidates is most supportive of making that happen?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@nivo0o0 so glad you asked. So we have this excellent excellent tool that has all immigration quotes from all of the 2016 candidates here http://app.fwd.us/candidates/fil...
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@thetoddschulte @nivo0o0 FWD.us wants to help make it clear to voters and supporters of reform where the candidates stand - and who’s saying what - on immigrants and immigration reform. FWD.us’ Presidential Candidate Tracker is designed to provide a straightforward, go-to resource for any on-the-record statements or comments made by 2016 presidential contenders around these issues. Quotes are tracked in real-time, and users are given the option to subscribe to receive daily updates on their candidates. FWD.us’ team has built out a comprehensive list of statements from all of the currently-declared Democratic and Republican 2016 presidential contenders, and will regularly update the page as candidates continue to weigh in on critical issues of reform.
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@thetoddschulte @nivo0o0 Now with all that said...obviously some candidates are a lot stronger than others on certain issues of immigration reform. What we are looking for is someone who advocates for our principles - and we stand strongly opposed to those candidates that want to radically restrict the ability for high skilled immigrants to come to this country and contribute and/or who in any way fail to denounce mass deportation.
Niv Dror
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
@thetoddschulte This you Todd! This is a great tool.
Amir M. Zadeh
Amir M. Zadeh@amirmhzadeh · CEO ellope.com
Todd, are constraints really the enablers of innovation? What are your thoughts? Can you start off your business going for breadth?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
i think innovation comes from looking at a problem and working really really hard and learning from your mistakes to find the solution to that problem
Andreas Klinger
Andreas Klinger@andreasklinger · Tech at Product Hunt 💃
I understand that immigration to the US is your primary concern but what about the opposite or better to say the lack of need of immigration Distributed teams are modern reality. A us company might have half their team outside of the US (eg we do) Legally it's not possible for a team member to come by for a few months to work on larger projects. B1/B2 officially only allows tourist trips or business meetings. Also the whole notion of having people remote FULLTIME but not employed (because cant do globally) is very grey-ish. Where do you see this trend going?
Andreas Klinger
Andreas Klinger@andreasklinger · Tech at Product Hunt 💃
We regularly have potential hires internationally - but the process of VISA application by itself is just to much of an effort. Even if you have good lawyers you will invest a few months. A few months are usually make or break for early stage businesses Do you see a realistic chance of a faster VISA that can be temporary issued for a year, while which you have to proof the concern for a longer lasting visa?
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
@andreasklinger a lot of what we work on is improving the visa system in terms of reducing the huge backlogs and limitations. so yes, i hope we can fix our system so that you would be able to use a better, more efficient, more productive/economic visa system.
Todd Schulte
Todd Schulte@thetoddschulte · President, FWD.us
Hey Andreas - so you bring up a good question which is based in a very central fact: we live in a globalized economy, and today's companies that are based in the US still may have operations and certainly customers who live outside the US. Right now we're focused on the US immigration system, but share the belief that for a company to grow they need to be able to have expertise from around the world. We should have secure borders but borders that allow for our economy to grow and flourish in a global marketplace