We may think that making money is not consistent with doing good in the world, but that's not always the case. Entrepreneur Craig Newmark, the founder of craigslist and craigconnects, share his insight as a philanthropist and advocate of technology for the public good.

Craig started craigslist in 1995 and it has grown into one of the world’s most-visited websites. He continues to work with craigslist as a customer service representative. The mission of craigconnects is promoting the use of technology and social media to benefit philanthropy and public service. Craig uses the craigconnects platform to support effective organizations working for veterans and military families, open government, public diplomacy, journalistic ethics and accountability, fact-checking, consumer protection, election protection and voter registration.

Transcript

Michael:

(00:03) We hear about startups and founders and wretched excess and self-absorbed people and narcissism. And what a breath of fresh air to speak with an entrepreneur whose been successful, who is actually concerned with giving back and not just in lip service, but actually doing it. So today on episode either number 122 or 123 we’re talking with Craig Newmark, who is the founder of craigslist and craigconnects. I’m Michael Krigsman and my co-host is Vala Afshar, and hey Vala how are you?

Vala:

(00:47) I’m doing great Michael and are given the enormity and the special guest we have, I think we should use up two episodes for Craig.

Michael:

(00:57) So this will be both 122 and 123

Vala:

(01:00) For the first time we’re devoting to episode numbers, yes. Craig how are you?

Michael:

(01:05) Craig how are you, will do this in stereo.

Craig:

(01:10) I’m doing very well and glad to be here.

Michael:

(01:15) You’re a self-described nerd.

Craig:

(01:19)Theself-describepart just reflects the actual reality. In high school I really did wear a plastic (pocket?) protector, really did wear thick black glasses taped together, and I had the social skills that go with the cliché, ‘I may be patient zero of nerds’, this was in the 50s and 60s. Since then I’ve learned to simulate social skills, but I can’t do that longer than about 90 minutes.

Vala:

(01:56) Well thankfully our show is half that period. But I think Craig it was Bill Gates who said, be nice to nerds, you may end up working for them. So can you take a few minutes and talk to us about your background.

Craig:

(02:11)Basically I was good at science and engineering stuff, starting from grammar school and all of that, but I did not play well with others. Had the predictable amount of problems and issues in high school and even in college, and I have only slowly, and with some difficulty learned things the hard way. But I was pretty good with computers, even starting in high school. We had an old IBM 1620. I learned programming using punch cards and Fortan to, and I was good at that so even though I intended to go into physics originally, I decided I needed a job someday. So I went into computer sciences.

(03:01) I should rollback, I did grow up in Morristown, New Jersey, only recently realizing that maybe it tells me something that across the street from me was a junkyard, and that the junkyard I played at was up the street which helped me understand that I grew up hovering not very far from poverty.

Michael:

(03:30) So your name is on craigslist is on the website that everybody knows, and sooner or later pretty much everybody uses. But you have no relationship to the management, you don’t manage, you’re not a spokesman for the company. What is your connection to craigslist today?

Craig:

(03:54)As of today basically I do customer service. Pretty lightweight stuff, enough to stay into touch with what’s real, and I’m on the board. Just to be clear with the name on the thing, that was named craigslist in the middle of 95. Before it had a name people around me were already calling it craigslist, and when I wanted to change the name they told me that I already created a brand by accident. I really didn’t know what a brand was, and you’ll see that it is spelt with a lowercase C. That’s deliberate on my part it’s to deemphasize the Craig in craigslist, despite the fact that a number of publications still misspell it with a capital C.

Vala:

(04:48) SoCraig, why and how did you start craigslist?

Craig:

(04:57) Early ’95, I was thinking that I wanted to better connect to the community, a community online that had helped me out quite a bit. For example on the WELL, people were giving me advice on what neighborhoods were like in San Francisco. So I figured I’d give back somehow, started a very simple cc list in and advanced email tool called Pine and just started sending

Michael:

(00:03) We hear about startups and founders and wretched excess and self-absorbed people and narcissism. And what a breath of fresh air to speak with an entrepreneur whose been successful, who is actually concerned with giving back and not just in lip service, but actually doing it. So today on episode either number 122 or 123 we’re talking with Craig Newmark, who is the founder of craigslist and craigconnects. I’m Michael Krigsman and my co-host is Vala Afshar, and hey Vala how are you?

Vala:

(00:47) I’m doing great Michael and are given the enormity and the special guest we have, I think we should use up two episodes for Craig.

Michael:

(00:57) So this will be both 122 and 123

Vala:

(01:00) For the first time we’re devoting to episode numbers, yes. Craig how are you?

Michael:

(01:05) Craig how are you, will do this in stereo.

Craig:

(01:10) I’m doing very well and glad to be here.

Michael:

(01:15) You’re a self-described nerd.

Craig:

(01:19)Theself-describepart just reflects the actual reality. In high school I really did wear a plastic (pocket?) protector, really did wear thick black glasses taped together, and I had the social skills that go with the cliché, ‘I may be patient zero of nerds’, this was in the 50s and 60s. Since then I’ve learned to simulate social skills, but I can’t do that longer than about 90 minutes.

Vala:

(01:56) Well thankfully our show is half that period. But I think Craig it was Bill Gates who said, be nice to nerds, you may end up working for them. So can you take a few minutes and talk to us about your background.

Craig:

(02:11)Basically I was good at science and engineering stuff, starting from grammar school and all of that, but I did not play well with others. Had the predictable amount of problems and issues in high school and even in college, and I have only slowly, and with some difficulty learned things the hard way. But I was pretty good with computers, even starting in high school. We had an old IBM 1620. I learned programming using punch cards and Fortan to, and I was good at that so even though I intended to go into physics originally, I decided I needed a job someday. So I went into computer sciences.

(03:01) I should rollback, I did grow up in Morristown, New Jersey, only recently realizing that maybe it tells me something that across the street from me was a junkyard, and that the junkyard I played at was up the street which helped me understand that I grew up hovering not very far from poverty.

Michael:

(03:30) So your name is on craigslist is on the website that everybody knows, and sooner or later pretty much everybody uses. But you have no relationship to the management, you don’t manage, you’re not a spokesman for the company. What is your connection to craigslist today?

Craig:

(03:54)As of today basically I do customer service. Pretty lightweight stuff, enough to stay into touch with what’s real, and I’m on the board. Just to be clear with the name on the thing, that was named craigslist in the middle of 95. Before it had a name people around me were already calling it craigslist, and when I wanted to change the name they told me that I already created a brand by accident. I really didn’t know what a brand was, and you’ll see that it is spelt with a lowercase C. That’s deliberate on my part it’s to deemphasize the Craig in craigslist, despite the fact that a number of publications still misspell it with a capital C.

Vala:

(04:48) SoCraig, why and how did you start craigslist?

Craig:

(04:57) Early ’95, I was thinking that I wanted to better connect to the community, a community online that had helped me out quite a bit. For example on the WELL, people were giving me advice on what neighborhoods were like in San Francisco. So I figured I’d give back somehow, started a very simple cc list in and advanced email tool called Pine and just started sending stuff out. People sent me stuff to send out, and it expanded from there.

(05:32) I said hey, let’s do apartments, because that was the very beginning of the apartment shortage, and I was just plugging away since then. There’s a lot more of the history, that’s the beginning.

Michael:

(05:45) I remember Pine, this is going back and it was the easy-to-use tool of its day. So you do customer service and you’re very committed to doing customer service. Maybe talk a little bit about customer service and why it matters.

Craig:

(06:04) These days I do the lightweight stuff, again it’s deliberate because that’s the only way that someone can stay in touch with what’s real and the company is customer service. It’s important I think, just because I feel that you know you want to treat people like you want to be treated and good customer service is basically living that principle each and every day. I mean I learned that well over 50 years ago in Sunday school.

(06:36)It’s a tough job, you can’t make everyone happy. Sometimes people want special privileges and they’re not happy when you say no. But you just keep plugging ahead every day. It’s also a good attitude to use when you’re talking to customer service people elsewhere because rather than getting angry sometimes one can try to be constructive, having help them solve problems, once in a while they’re actually listening. But I remind myself like the saying goes, you know that ‘everyone every day is fighting a battle I know nothing about. So I will try to be kind’. I don’t live up to that 100% but I’m trying.

Vala:

(07:26) Well anybody who follows you on social media or listens to you present and is around you, and recognizes that you are a very positive person. You’re just a positive individual. No instances of negativity at all. Is that essential to being a successful customer service representative in an organization, and why are you still positive. How do you stay so positive?

Craig:

(07:54) I think it helps to just try that, and to consistently try that. What I write down though, well sometimes I am angry about something. Let’s say somebody making up disinformation let’s say in politics, but the negative stuff isn’t productive. The positive stuff is, and I prefer to be either positive or funny and of course, as Mrs. Newmark will remind me I’m not as funny as I think I am.

Michael:

(08:31) Well I hope Mrs. Newmark will join you today and say hello to us. So, you spend a lot of your time now on a variety of different causes and philanthropic activities and issues, under the umbrella of craigconnects.org. So please tell us about craigconnects.

Craig:

(09:01) Craigconnects is basically my umbrella organization, which helps me get together my act regarding public service and philanthropy. I mean three – four years ago, I asked someone to help me list all the nonprofits and government agencies that I was helping. I thought the list would max out at 30, and instead she gave me a list of about 100.

(09:27) But what I’m doing now is focusing on those efforts that make sense to me, and thentrying to do what I can to help the group’s doing good stuff to help out. I mean there’s some broad clauses, like the idea that I think federal workers these days get a lot of very unfair or bad media, so I’m starting to use a hashtag, #RespectForFeds. I’ve gotten no traction at all using that hashtag, but I’ll keep using it. But then again I have big projects which somehow have appealed to me.

(10:06)One is supporting vets and military families, because people are already forgetting that we owe vets a lot. We also need to be reminded as a people that their families serve along with the vet as he’s an active service member overseas. And on Monday I’ll be at a White House conference on ending veteran’s homelessness.

(10:29)Another big project has to do with the trustworthiness of news and journalism. Without going on a big tangent about it, I’m in news consumer, a news consumer only, but I only just want news I can trust and the only thing offering a real hope for that these days is something called the Trust Project.

(10:50) Also I’ve a project going supporting women in technology, and I will probably expand a minor project about voting rights, trying to help people register to vote and actually vote, even when bad actors in politics are trying to stop them.

Vala:

(11:12) Is this a website foundation, can you talk to us a little bit about, or something else.

Craig:

(11:19) Right now it’s a website, craigconnects.org, which mostly is a vehicle for me to help people who are doing good work. As for the non-profit structure behind that, frankly I’m trying to figure out right now what’s the most effective and efficient way to do that and I don’t have the answer yet.

Michael:

(11:42) So philanthropy and public service are extremely important to you, so why is that and what are the challenges associated with making the decision about where to invest time, resources, and attention, and you also bring media attention with you as well. So what are the challenges associated with that?

Craig:

(12:04) Well, my deal is I stumble across causes, things that I believe in and then I find people who are really good at supporting those. You know, it’s an intuitive, somewhat haphazard process, but I guess it works for me. I should add there’s nothing altruistic about this. I’m just doing what feels right. I’m just being in a way a nerd, because after you make enough to provide for your future and may be to help out friends and family, it’s much more satisfying to make a difference.

(12:43)So I just kind of plug away with this stuff. My process is getting a little more methodical, but it does have this very personal connection kind of thing. For example, I support things that feel right for me, that’s the reason I support veterans in military families.

(13:06) On the other hand sometimes I support things at a whim, for example I help support a pigeon rescue organisation in my area, and have been very tempted to adopt pigeons. Not that I’m not eccentric enough already, but my idea that this kind of thing works for me and I just do what feels right. Like I say, a nerds got to do what and nerds got to do.

Vala:

(13:39) Do you use social media to validate your instincts or to connect with other thoughtful, kind, and generous folks like yourself. I see you active on Twitter. I mean why are you on Twitter? Where do you find the joy of publicly connecting on social media, and how does it help you in terms of your philanthropic initiatives.

Craig:

(14:05) Well I’m using social media, one as a way to support the groups and people who are doing good work in areas that I’m interested in, or sometimes evenareas that I’m not interested in,  I’ll re-tweet kind of randomly.

(14:24) I also use social media to indulge in my sense of humor. You’ll see that on Twitter and Facebook. Like if you look at Twitter now, you’ll see both some wild parrots that visited my home yesterday. You’ll see a Cooper’s hawk, who visited two or three days ago, and you’ll see of course a mini-me which is actually my number 20 nephew. That’s for a total of 20, but number 21 is under development right now.

Vala:

That’s awesome

Michael:

(15:03) So you have a real R&D thing going with nephews. Nieces and nephews.

Craig:

(15:09)That’s true. The deal is I think we’ll see even more under production. I hope to have at least a platoon’s worth.

Michael:

(15:20) Okay, so you have been involved – let’s talk about government technology. So you have been involved in a variety of formal roles and informal advisory roles in the Federal government. And so just to set this context, give us a sense of what your connection has been.

Craig:

(15:41)Basically when it comes to public service – governmental organizations, often we stumble across one another and I’m happy to provide and help along the technical nature, but the rule is pretty much they always have the technology people they need to help them out. Sometimes they’re not sure in terms of how to work with contractors, because there’s contractors who are still stuck on the waterfall method, but the help they really need from me is communications with the public because I will give you know, I always give a public affairs officer a fair shake and I will speak accurately and honestly about what they’re doing. Usually the press won’t.

(16:33)So I can help work with them on the subject of culture change, because the biggest problem government agencies have is the idea of culture change moving to an environment say, well when it comes to IT, they really do need to move to agile software development. I should be very specific there. When I say agile software development, I’m not referring to the formal process which is valuable. But I refer to the common sense implementation that I started with at craigslist meaning talk to people. Find out what they need. Do something. Find out what addresses their needs and what doesn’t address their needs and then react to that. That way you avoid wasting your time with a lot of stupid stuff that doesn’t serve you the needs

Michael:

(17:27) So you are actually advocating developers, manager just sitting down in meetings and just simply talking to one another, exchanging information. It’s a very strange concept that you’re advocating here.

Vala:

Futuristic.

Michael:

Futuristic yes.

Craig:

(17:45) It does go against the grain in a lot of places, a lot of private industry as well and private industry is not really a head of the government in this.

(17:57) The deals I push for, or I push for a customer’s perspective and you know I’ll never really know how much traction I’ve had because there’s really no way to measure the results. The stuff I do may percolate in different places for years and other people will be saying the same things. So I will never know what influence I’ve had but that’s life.

Vala:

(18:27) What drew you into the Federal government? I mean that’s a big boulder you’re trying to move in terms of cultural change, customer centricity. I mean certainly there are other smaller, less complex, less bureaucratic.

Craig:

(18:48)What got me in there was basically – well, started basically with the Obama Administration. There were a lot of people in Washington, like at the Federal led managers Council who had been waiting to do a good job, prior to that they seem to feel that doing a good job would threaten their careers. So they started talking to me. I started meeting people and moving ahead. For example, a few days into the Obama Administration, I met the guy who was the Chief Technology Officer at Veterans Affairs Peter Levin and they were ramping up to make a lot of progress.

(19:36)In 2009, there was a decision at Veterans Affairs, should be really, really seriously, should be really really serious about helping out veterans. And so they were trying to accelerate a lot of development. That is the workers were really serious all along but now they had sanction from the top to accelerate efforts to get serious about stuff and that’s been a really big thing. The thing is they have a lot of work to make up for.

Michael:

(20:11) So in the government, our mutual friend who introduced us, David Bray, who is the CIO for the Federal Communications Commission talks about change agents, and it seems to that – and correct me if I’m wrong, in a sense of what you’re describing is going into pockets, looking for pockets of people inside Federal agencies who have a more innovative mindset and a mindset where they’re more willing to share information and communicate as you were describing before and then identifying those people and then working with those folks in the hope that it will radiate out more broadly. Is that an accurate assessment of what you’re describing?

Craig:

(21:02) Pretty much so. More simply, somehow people who are doing good work in this area attract each other. For example, I’ve seen what David Bray is doing and he’s the FCC CIO, and he’s kind of the poster child for social media communications throughout the entire Federal government. He’s done a great job.

(21:29) I’m also encouraging more from the digital services and AT&F. these folks are doing really good work regarding better software development throughout the Federal government, particularly Veteran’s Affairs and I’d like to find ways to bring much more attention to what they do among the general public. The problem is when things work really well that’s not a juicy story. That’s not the kind of story that’s going to sell advertising, so it’s up to people with good will including myself to get the word out.

Vala:

(22:07) Let’s talk a little bit Craig about technology, culture and e-government. How can digital technologies change and you know, ultimately improve government. 

Craig:

(22:23)Basically, the biggest potential part is the potential cultural change that comes with the use of internet kinds of technology. The internet, ultimately is a platform where people can work together to get stuff done, in a hopefully personal manner, and that attitude is something that’s helping change the way all government works. It’s helping change the way private industry works. The deal is that it’s kind of an inevitable wave of change, cultural change that will help people work more effectively. But this kind of thing threatens a lot of entrenched power and so the transition is already painful, and it will be painful for quite a while but I feel it’s kind of inevitable.

Michael:

(23:20) So when you talk about this, are you referring to the piece that’s inevitable is a mindset of being more open, more willing to share information and have rewards for sharing information rather than rewards for hording information.

Craig:

(23:41)WellI’d say it’s more about rewarding good work together, effective collaboration. A lot of that will be enhanced sharing but there’s always sensitivities involved. Sometime you’ve just got to compartmentalize and that’s an important part of how a lot of things go. You do have to know what are the limits of transparency. I have a problem with that personally, because my natural mode is to tell everyone everything, and now then the lawyers will spank me.

Vala:

(24:18) Craig, we had a future of work analyst on our show and he talked about digital proficiency and he said there’s really two vectors. There’s your skill and competence and your comfort level and once you can master those two vectors, you have a greater sense of digital proficiencies. My question is, when you think about Federal government or a private institution or any large organization, you know is it an age issue, is it a digital divide in terms generational gap, is it culture and leadership, is it just complexity of technology. Why this slow adoption, and how do you insert yourself to help remove some of these obstacles based on your experience and your council?

Craig:

(25:04) I think it’s a combination of all those factors. There are age related issues there that contribute to the digital divide and contribute to the discomfort with the technology, and that’s just pretty human. The deal is that when people use technologies in very real down to earth ways that’s what moves things a head. For example, well, even when people use Facebook to look at pictures of their grandkids that increases the comfort level with technology even when it comes to what people use at work.

(25:50)And for that matter, if somebody uses craigslist, so let’s say find a place to live or get a job, or to give away free stuff that also increases the comfort level of people using technology and that’s helpful in terms of the cultural change that I try to bring about, because I’m told that pretty much that every staff who are in Washington uses craigslist, and that ain’t bad because that way they feel that we’ve already been introduced. They know that I’m trustworthy and that helps get things going.

Michael:

(26:30) So you know it raises an interesting question, and by the way we all love craigslist. I currently have my D800 camera for sale if you want to buy it, if anybody wants a camera I’ll send you to the ad on craigslist.

(26:43) But this notion of technology as a force for good in a sense it seems to me that the technology aspect is neutral because it brings out both the positive behaviors, but also ver negative behaviors. So how do you and I know for craigslist in the past has been a practical problem that you’ve had to grapple with, how do you then harness the force to push it where you want in a positive direction knowing that otherwise it’s just like the negativity is just like weeds growing up.

Craig:

(27:22) Well what I’ve observed over 20 years of doing this professionally every day, and I mean everyday literally what I’m seeing is that the good stuff overwhelmingly drives out the bad. As how I harness it in a really really big way, I don’t know yet. I mean the part of it is just to lead by example, because as you’ve seen even craigslist is a monetized maybe around the 1% level. I should tangentially say that that’s not altruistic. That’s what feels right and that’s why I stepped away and left billions on the table in ’99 and 2004.

(28:09)The idea of harnessing the positivity, again I don’t know how to do that except by example. However I’m trying to experiment with that, and as I talk to a lot of the non-profits that I support, and there’s a lot more than I’ve let on. I’m trying to talk with them about how to make use of their client and support of mailing lists as ways to well, a non-profit should be able to ask their supporters, their clients to help them out through social media.

(28:44)If you use a service, let’s say a Veteran’s Service Organization, when that VSO hosts something then they should, the people seeing that should re-tweet that, should share it on Facebook and so on. And I’m actively talking about that with non-profits right now.

(29:08) I’ve also spoken with people in different agencies about that, and that’s tougher because there’s a bunch of reasons why the secretary or administrator of an agency can’t ask their people to share stuff on social media. But I can and I’d like to find out how I can do that effectively. Maybe I put an ad someplace in one of the papers that everyone reads, politico, or the Hill or rollcall and just ask you know, staffers to start re-tweeting and sharing that they can blame me, and of course I’ll add #RespectForFeds.

Michael:

(29:54) So you see yourself as a very explicit kind of amplifier that’s external to the process in a sense so you have independence.

Craig:

(30:08) I think I’d like to try it and again I can do so in the non-profit world. However in the government world unless I maybe go out full on nerd and stick my neck out a little bit, I’m considering doing so in a more direct way to help out, well, to help out staffers particularly congressional staffers who really need a break.

(30:38) I mean right now especiallyduty members of the house, a lot of them don’t get paid a living wage, and I do joke that they can only survive by eating their fundraisers and if they don’t have enough interest a lot of the staffers maybe suffering from (scurtal?)

(31:04) The Obama Administration has proposed new overtime rules which may apply to Congress and I think maybe I should really push hard for that.

Vala:

(31:15) I thinkwe can take the power of CXOTalk and solicit the help of Dr. David Bray and maybe a RespectForfeds mini conference and invite folks to collaborate and share and we can do a live CXOTalk from their and really put that on the map. But something for you to consider, I mean the fact that you know every one of us is carrying a computer in our pocket, we’re more informed, we’re more connected, we’re collaborating more so than ever. So shouldn’t the citizens expectations of government or provident organization, or any community that they’re part of be greater today than ever before and growing more stronger as we go and look into the future.

Craig:

(32:00) I think we should be expecting more of our government. The thing is that in the news, articles which reduce trust in government as perceived as selling advertising and moving ahead for the common good is considered boring and un-newsworthy that’s a bigger problem.

Michael:

(32:23) Well there is this issue in the media of the least common denominator content because like you say, basically blood, guts, and gore and nasty stuff sells articles and brings pages. Any thoughts on this whole notion of content and what’s going on in the connection with news and so forth, I mean I’m sure you must think about these issues.

Craig:

(32:50) I do and you know I have no objection to people posting news sometimes just to get attention, whether it’s cute kittens or warnings about armadillos and disease. You know, that’s okay as long as news organizations focus on stuff that really matters and that they present big issues honestly.

(33:16) For example, with the Iran deal news outlets have generally not represented that well. They should, for example when someone lies about the deal and it’s easy enough to fact check, they should point that out and call it out. But you know if you call out a politician lying about things, then that politician may never go on your news show. Chuck Todd pretty much admitted that at the end of last year on Meet the Press, when he had on Lewis Black and some other comics.

(33:50) But the thing is, if a news show like Meet the Press doesn’t ask tough questions and doesn’t demand answers, do they serve the public interest? That’s a question that I ask of news ethic professionals. Don’t have an answer yet, but going to keep on asking.

Michael:

(34:09) And you actually contributed to an organization related to fact checking.

Craig:

(34:18) I’ve actually contributed to a whole bunch of them in different forms, in different times. Newsassignment.net, which has come and gone, there’s a center for public integrity, sun life foundation, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, which is working with Google news in a big and interesting way.

(34:41)There’s a bunch. I’m beginning to think I should go a little more public with the philanthropy that I’m doing, if nothing else that’s one way to get the word out regarding good word out that people do.

(34:54) So news organizations yeah, I’ve been helping support a bunch of veteran’s and military family organizations and a bunch of other ones to including women in tech. that part of my work has actually – the real work frankly is being done by the folks at Rad Campaign, which operates near to (pod circle? 35:16)

Vala:

(35:19) I’d love to learn a little bit more about your involvement in terms of initiatives around women in tech, can you talk to us a little bit about that. One, how did you get involved and two, more specifics about you know how can we help, how can our audience help to bring broader awareness to women in Stem and tech.

Craig:

(35:42)Well the broad principle is just fairness, again treating people like I want to be treated. That motivates my support for voting rights, motivates the women in tech stuff. But I’m not knowledgeable enough in the area and no one needs me to do any man slating, so I rely on the folks at RAD Campaign.

(36:03) Together we’ve run a very recently, the Women’s Startup Challenge. You know where we put a lot of cash into it and both are supporting some organizations directly with finance, but also media.

(36:19)The larger message is that women doing technology is part of the new normal and I’m trying to help out in ways guided by the people who’ve been doing women in tech stuff for years. The folks at RAD Campaign have been doing women who do tech for a long time. I’m also supporting Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code and a bunch of organizations, who just do good stuff which seems to actually work.

Michael:

(36:54) We have a comment from Joanna Young, who is the Chief Information Officer of Michigan State, which is you know basically a school that is the size of a good size city. It is a very very large organization, and she asks and she’s listening to our conversation, and she wants to hear further about your views of women in technology and what can she do to help.

Craig:

(37:26)My view fundamentally is that again, treat people like you want to be treated. I can elaborate on that but I think it’s may be enough just to remind people of that, and then to remind people of that again.

(37:44)What she can do to help frankly, is to find the groups doing good work in this area, some that I’ve mentioned and find their social media, and retweet it, share it on Facebook and just not stop.Because the idea is to create a new normal, and not only for women but in all manners of diversity, and related issues again, my favorite related issue is voting rights. Tangentially I’ll say that, there are some bad actors in politics who want to prevent other people from voting, and people of good will need to stand up and say something. But in every area, where a person needs a break, or a group needs to break the idea is to stand up using your own personal social media. Find what matters, retweet it and then do Facebook share with it, but repeat the groups that I just mentioned just in case I’m moving too fast.

(38:51) Again, there’s Women Who Tech, there’s Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code. There’s the work done by Global Fund for Women. There’s a bunch of others which I need to memorize, but I’m relying on the folks at RAD Campaign as a crutch, so maybe I need them to post more on my behalf. Hopefully some of them are listening.

Vala:

(39:14) We need a craigslist of all these organizations to keep an eye on and promote. I do have a question, may I ask why are you so private in terms of all this incredible philanthropy and good work that you do. I mean the more we listen to you the more we are finding out in all these things that you’re involved with, and I didn't and I didn’t really know that until the show. So is there a reason why you choose to do what you humbly do.

Craig:

(39:45)There’s two gut level reasons. One is I’m a nerd, we don’t take compliments well.

Vala:

(39:51) You’re great!

Craig:

(39:56) The other reason is that the issue – because I have just recently read and reread the Sermon on the Mount, which says something about not taking credit for the good work that you do. On the other hand, if you don’t take credit for it you’re losing the opportunity to spread the message.

(40:16) Also, you’re losing an opportunity for comedy, because we just announced that I’m funding the Craig Newmark Memorial Toilet Number Two at a community garden, across the street from where I grew up in Morristown, New Jersey.

Michael:

(40:32) I read about this, this is actually true. I saw this in the newspaper.

Craig:

(40:38) Well true, and sold the newspaper. You may not want to link this phrase.

Michael:

(40:44) But in this case I did see it in the newspaper and we are hearing it directly from you, so it must be true.

Craig:

(40:52)The deal is that people are doing a community garden, literally across the street from where I grew up and I figure I can send them some cash, while frankly reminding people that sanitation and clean water also are really important. I’m also indulging in my sense of humor, which ain’t bad. And frankly, toilet number one is in high school in Jericho in the holy land. And I’m now considering number three, near the VA Medical Centre in Palo Alto. This would be at housing both for wounded warriors for outpatient work and their caregivers.

(41:37)So I figure I do have a sense of humor. I get to indulge in it while doing something much more serious, and this combination ain’t bad. But frankly, I am figuring out how to be much more effective in communications and that involves being frank about my role and of course it will offer me opportunities for comedy. And I may be repeating myself, but again Mrs. Newmark reminds me that I’m not as funny as I think I am.

Michael:

(42:15) Well you’re pretty funny. We can talk to Mrs. Newmark and we can check that out. I want to just mention to everybody that Craig has discussed a lot of different organizations and in not too much time, the transcript of this show will go up on the CXOTalk site. So just check back, you can listen to the replay and you can read the transcript as well, so you can get all of the detail.

(42:46) Craig, before we go what advice do you have to people in the Federal government, who are trying to be change agents as David Bray describes and who want to accomplish something but they are facing resistance. What advice can you share through them?

Craig:

(43:04)It’s not going to be too good. The first thing is to take a look at what David does on a daily basis. Take a look at what AT&F and the digital service do on a daily basis. And learn from them.Then they can contact me craig@craigslist.org or even craig.newmark@gmail.com and we can talk about things that they might wind up doing.

(43:33) The trick is I’ve spoken about a number of Federal agencies and they’re you know, staff attorneys, and communications people are a bit well, they’re really wary of this stuff as they should be. But I’ll work with them, and frankly they can blame me and I’ll do what I can to re-tweet what they do to share it. And I figure I’ll be doing that for at least another 20 years or so because that’s my idea of the near term, and then looking ahead, although I’m also looking ahead a couple of hundred years. But the idea is that I’ll just keep plugging away, and then I’ll just keep plugging away some more.

Vala:

(44:20) I’m super fascinated in the last sentence. You said I’m thinking about things a couple of hundred years. I can’t even think of things a couple of weeks or months from now. So can you elaborate, what do you mean by that?

Craig:

(44:36) I’m reading a a lot of history, and as a nerd I’ve read a lot of science fiction, and decisions and things that we make in the industry and in government today, will influence life on this planet for a long time. So these visions that we make today have long-lasting repercussions.

(44:59) Speaking of foolish decisions, if you wanted to see Mrs. Newmark or some of the pigeons, here she is.

Vala:

(45:07) Hello Mrs. Newmark

Michael:

(45:10) Welcome to CXOTalk.

Craig:

(45:12)Here’s the pigeons. You just caught a glimpse of Shirley the pigeon, best known for taking no prisoners.

Mrs. Newmark:

(45:22) Craig and are both talk about what things will look like in 160 years. Craig will be a brain floating in liquid in a jar and I have not decided where I will be.

Michael:

(45:38) It’s nice you have that choice. We’re going to try to follow you on that one.

Craig:

(45:42)That will be in an episode of Futurama, which I do recommend.

Vala:

(45:47) That’s awesome and come on you have got to admit that Craig is pretty funny. I mean I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Craig: 

(45:54) I think you shouldn’t encourage me.

Vala:

(45:59) Well anytime you want to practice your stand-up comedy on our show you have 45 minutes. You just named the time and date and we’ll give you the window.

Craig:

(46:09) Careful what you wish for.

Michael:

(46:13) Mrs. Newmark, we are giving him the comedy platform that whatever he wants to do with it, there it is.

Craig:

(46:23)It’s a sign of the end times.

Michael:

(46:26) Well thank you so much for joining us today Craig, unfortunately our time is drawing to a close. We’ve been talking with Craig Newmark, who is the founder of craigslist and craigconnects.org, and of course we’ve been talking most recently with Mrs. Newmark as well. I’m Michael Krigsman and this is show 122 and 123, and my co-host is Vala Afshar, and Vala this has been an interesting discussion.

Vala:

(46:57) This was an unbelievably fast 48 minutes. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Thank you so much Craig and Mrs. Newmark.

Michael:

(47:08) And everybody thank you so much for watching, and please sign up for the newsletter. On our site you will see a subscription to the newsletter, click it and sign up and you’ll get all kinds of great stuff. Thanks everybody and we will see you on this coming Tuesday, with the CEO of Sugar CRM. Bye bye.

Black Girls Code:                                   www.blackgirlscode.com

Craigconnects:                                       www.craigconnects.org

Craigslist:                                                www.craigslist.com

Facebook:                                               www.facebook.com

Fortran:                                                   www.fortan.com        

Girls Who Code:                                     www.girlswhocode.com

Global Fund for Women:                      www.globalfundforwomen.org

Google News:                                         www.news.google.com

IBM:                                                          www.ibm.com

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics:  www.scu.edu/ethics

Over the hill:                                           www.thehill.com

Politico:                                                    www.politico.com

RAD Campaign                                       www.radcampaign.com

RespectForFeds:                                   #RespectForFeds

Roll Call:                                                   www.rollcall.com

The WELL:                                                www.well.com

Twitter:                                                     www.twitter.com

Women Who Teach:                              www.womenwhotech.com

 

 

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Craig Newmark Memorial Toilet Number Two