Tuesdays with T4A: Charley Moore (09/24/13)

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This week, we interview T4A.org Convening Board member and long-time supporter Charley Moore.

Charley Moore
Founder and Chairman | Rocket Lawyer
Charley  is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Rocket Lawyer, a long-time entrepreneur, and a legal commentator. Charley has been at the forefront of Internet corporate development since beginning his career as an attorney at Venture Law Group in Menlo Park, California in 1996. While practicing at Venture Law Group, he participated in the early-stage representation of Yahoo! (IPO), WebTV Networks (acquired by Microsoft) and Cerent Corporation (acquired by Cisco Systems) and was the founder of Onstation Corporation (acquired by The Cobalt Group). He served as a U.S. Naval officer and is a Gulf War veteran. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Northern California Public Broadcasting Corporation (KQED) and the UC Berkeley School of Law, among other organizations. Charley resides in San Francisco with his wife Monique and their three children.

Where did you grow up?
St. Louis
What was your first job?
My dad owned gas stations and I started working at one of them as a young kid.
What is your first political memory?
Nixon vs McGovern. I was a little boy way back then. But, Tom Eagleton was our Senator and McGovern’s first VP choice, before being dropped from the ticket when it was learned that he had undergone psychiatric treatment. What an election that was in 1972 and even a 6 year old little boy couldn’t miss hearing about it. Rick Perlstein’s book “Nixonland” really captures the time. As a postscript, Senator Eagleton was a partner in a law firm where I interned one summer in the mid 1990s. He took all of the law students out to lunch and gave us a grand tour of St. Louis as only a politician for 40+ years could do. He was in fine spirits that day in August, many years after the 1972 election and its aftermath. If he could stay positive and keep moving forward, we all can and should.
What is your favorite book?
A Farewell to Arms.
What led you to join the Navy, and what was the most important thing you learned while serving as an officer in the Armed Forces?
My father served in the Air Force as a young man. There is a picture of him then that we always loved and military service seemed like a normal and good thing to do. I was also inspired by Jimmy Carter, an Annapolis graduate, who was President at the time that I became really interested in becoming a Navy officer some day. I learned about true friendship at Annapolis and serving overseas. I am eternally thankful for the buddies that served in those places with me.
Who are your role models and why?
I have been blessed with some great mentors. My high school trigonometry teacher was incredibly selfless and dedicated. Without her extra tutoring, my academic life might have turned out differently. Teachers like her are amazing role models. My mom was a teacher, too. Craig Johnson, the founder of Venture Law Group, where I started working in Silicon Valley, had a huge impact on my thinking about what is possible in this magical place.
As you look at your community, city/state/country, how do you view your role/responsibility as a citizen? Within that context, how do you view your role as citizen in relation to our Government and Democracy?
I’m reading The Passage of Power, about Lyndon Johnson, by Robert Caro, right now. When you understand what it took for voting rights to become truly universal in the United States, it’s impossible not to feel some responsibility to participate in our democracy. Johnson said, “…we can’t legislate human dignity—we can legislate to give a [person] a vote and a voice in his own government. Then with his vote and his voice, he is equipped with a very potent weapon to guarantee his own dignity.” We owe it to those who guaranteed our rights with so much sacrifice, and to our children, to exercise them and participate.
Just about everyone (regardless of political affiliation) sees a large gap between our politics (Washington, DC as well as state capitals) and the reality on the issues we face as a Country. Why do you think that is? I know it's a tough question, but what do you think can be done to close that gap?
Honestly, I don’t know. It is a tough question. We all have to work together to figure it out, though, or else…
Are political parties becoming less relevant today, particularly for young adults? Whatever your answer, why do you think that is?
That’s a great question. Yes, we live in a much more transitory world now. People, including, of course, politicians, build their personal brands and carry those brands with them from place to place. Much has been written already about our increasingly freelance and entrepreneurial economy. The same is true in politics and I do see a diminishing role for parties, especially at the national level, where brand seems to trump party affiliation.
What is your favorite journey?
Summer vacations with my family.
If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be?
Henry Aaron.
What is your proudest moment?
I hope it hasn’t happened yet!
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