Welcome to the ESE Report, a weekly blog that touches on leadership, education, and public affairs from a unique perspective. It’s a view from the “other side of the tracks.”
I was born and raised in East San Jose, the predominately Latino section of the Santa Clara Valley that has been historically mislabeled “the bad side of town” by those whom have spent little or no time there. Despite this negative stereotype, the East Side I’m from is a no-nonsense working-class neighborhood with no frills, a place where my late parents taught me and my siblings to work hard, get an education, play by the rules, and respect ourselves and others.
As a boy, I had a happy and carefree childhood. As a young man, I flunked out of college, wandered aimlessly through life for several years, and ultimately returned to college to graduate on the dean’s list. As a man, I have lived the American Dream: I married a wonderful woman, we have two daughters, and I built a career on work that inspires me.
Professionally, I’ve had the rare opportunity to roam the sidelines as a high school basketball coach, walk the halls of Congress as a corporate executive, strike the gavel as a school board president, and experience the machinations of local government as a political chief of staff.
In over 25 years of working in politics, business, education, and community service, I’ve seen self-interest and self-preservation bring out the worst in people, and I’ve seen the enduring human spirit of serving others bring out the best in people.
When I was 46 years old, I had a massive heart attack and suffered from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a rare lung disorder that few people survive. With strong faith, a loving family, supportive friends, and a great medical team, I live to tell the story today.
It’s these experiences slow-cooked together that have molded the way I see the world: practical and hard-nosed, yet hopeful and idealistic. Like Frank Capra’s fictional hero George Bailey from the 1947 Christmas Classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” I’m a sucker for happy endings. Through it all, my heart and soul, and my core values are still from the East Side.
The inspiration for the name of this blog came from Navarra Williams, a former corporate executive who became a mentor and friend. Early in my corporate career, Navarra, who himself grew up in the tough neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., gave me the nickname “East Side Eddie,” a moniker I proudly carry with me to this day.
Every city, town, and hamlet in America has an “east side,” and every east side has a voice. It’s the voice of hard-working people who toil so their children can have a better life. It’s the voice that’s rarely heard. It’s the voice that deserves to be understood. The ESE Report hopes to do just that by being insightful, provocative, amusing, and, at times, inspiring.
Please feel free to browse the Leadership, Education, and Public Affairs buttons on the blog. I hope you find the topics interesting. You can follow the ESE Report by clicking the “Follow” link on the bottom, right-hand corner of this page.
I look forward to hearing from you!
San José, California
September 23, 2013