Connect & Collaborate, Doug Robinson, May 31, 2017

Station:    KDMT, 1690 AM

Show:     Connect & Collaborate – Finding Colorado’s Next Governor

Guests:    Robinson


Date:      May 31, 2017

Topics:  PERA, Stapleton, Amendment 64, Marijuana, Colorado GOP, Transportation, Education Reform, Choice, Charter Schools,

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HOST TAMMY SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Thank you for joining us, and connect and collaborate. To date, we bring you a special new series finding Colorado’s next governor, the Colorado business Roundtable is proud to partner with the Denver Business Journal to bring in-depth interviews with Colorado’s Cuban editorial candidates. I’m Tammy Schaefer, your honor producer along with Jeff Wasden, president of the Colorado business Roundtable. Jeff, this is an exciting new series!

HOST JEFF WASDEN:  I actually was going to correct your name when you said Tammy Schaefer. I’m like, “Oh!” You just got married. You’re back. Welcome back, Tammy Schmidt!

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Brand new. It takes me a bit to spit it out, as well.

WASDEN:  It caught me. I’m like, “What is up with that last name?”

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  “Wha–?  What did she say?”

WASDEN:  We are so excited to start this new series, Finding Colorado’s Next Governor, and certainly partnering with the Denver Business Journal – Pete, Neil, Ed, Kathy, the entire team over there DBJ. We’re excited to bring to the citizens — to the residents of Colorado, an opportunity to learn about all of the candidates that have put their name – that have filed for governor here in this great state.

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Right, and we want you to be a part of this. We want you to make a point to tune into Connect and Collaborate on the last business day of each month to hear from all of the candidates. And we want you to join in as well. If you have a question you’d like to ask each candidate tag us on Twitter at Colorado BRT and then hashtag #FindingCOGov and will use your questions in our interviews.

WASDEN:  It’s a great opportunity and our first candidate, Doug Robinson, is here and we’re excited to get a chance to let the residents of this great state –the voters next year — get to know Doug. I’ve known Doug for quite some time. So this is an honor, not only to be part of this series, but certainly to interview somebody that I’ve known or respected for many years, a fellow businessperson. And so we’re going to a chance to talk with Doug and several other candidates each and every month. So thanks for tuning and we’re glad to have you here, we’re glad to partner with her friends over at DBJ and start this series about who is going to replace Gov. Hickenlooper.


WASDEN: Welcome!


ROBINSON:  So thank you very much for having me on the show. Tammy, congratulations!



ROBINSON:  I didn’t know that. That is a special treat! And I think this is perfect because I am a businessman. I am not a politician. I love policy. I love solving problems. But I’m fundamentally a business guy who cares passionately about kids, cares about the future of our state. And that’s why I’m in this race, because I care about Colorado and where it’s going and, uh – am I talking too loud?

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  No, I am just pointing at you to go right on the mic. You’re kind of turning to Jeff, but it’s fine.

ROBINSON:  All right. Got it. I’m still getting used to this. I’m sorry. Great. So–.

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Yeah, well, we were in a rush so I didn’t get to give you proper direction, because the traffic was so bad on the way here.

ROBINSON:  Traffic, that’s something that hopefully we will have time to talk about. Our infrastructure is not where it needs to be, and we just barely made it in because of the challenge of getting across our freeways at this hour.


WASDEN:  Yeah, well, we’ll have some time to chat about that. But let’s get into — first and foremost, Dou, you are filed for a candidate.  What really got you interested in running for governor and that pushed you to get you into the Secretary of State’s office to file as a candidate for governor in the 2018 election?

ROBINSON:  Yeah, it’s really few things. I guess fundamentally –. There we go. We’re getting this set up right. There we go.  Hopefully that’s better. I care deeply about the state. So Diane and I — my wife, Diane– we moved here 21 years ago. We came from New York. I was leading a position at a firm in New York where we were raising money for technology businesses, was had a new client in Colorado — CSG Systems — that we were taking public, flew out for the day. Diane came with me. We drove around. We were absolutely smitten with the beauty of this state. Frankly, we were finding it challenging in New York to manage career, family, putting it all together. Out of the blue, three days later, I got a call from a recruiter saying that there was a firm in Denver that was looking to start a technology corporate finance practice. And that made all the difference. We decided to leave our lives in New York for an uncertain future in the West. So that happened 21 years ago. We’ve raised our family here. We’ve raised five children. And I see a change in Colorado and I’m concerned a lot of things are going well in Colorado, but I’m concerned about some of the things that are happening. I don’t see leadership stepping up to really put in place a plan for the next 10 or 20 years and that’s my interest as a businessman and getting into the race to address some of those challenges which will have a chance to talk about

WASDEN:  [I] appreciate that and that’s really what were here for right is to give you a chance you put in this great state. 21 years that we want folks to get to know the Doug Robinson meant and why you feel your best suited to replace Gov. Hickenlooper as our next governor you were with St. Charles capital that you help cofound that merge with KPMG which is a great business Roundtable company recently and is now retired from KPMG to run for governor. That’s a big decision in your life and really shows that you’re vested — that you’re all in — in this decision that you, Diane, and your family have made to run for governor.  Talk a little bit about, you know, that process of stepping down and resigning from work, you know, and saying that, “This is what I meant to do and I’m not going to put a toe in the shallow end. We’re jumping full force in the deed end.”

ROBINSON:  Yeah, that was a big decision. I think you look back in your life and there are several big decisions that you make. Moving to Colorado was one that was absolutely huge.

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Yeah, you kind of dived in on that one, as well.

ROBINSON:  Dived in on that one.  Another one was starting our own firm, St. Charles Capital. A few of us had come for another larger firm and we thought the others a better way to do things and so we took the entrepreneurial risk we started our own firm in 2004 and we grew that to be a leading advisor in Colorado for advising growth companies and how to grow and how to raise money to get bigger, and help with the acquisitions and other things. And so we grew that for 10 years we had interest from companies in combining with what we were doing with what they were doing and KPMG, which is a worldwide advisory firm was very interested. We completed a transaction with them. I stayed on for three years after the deal as a senior member of their technology, media, and telecom team. And it was really over the holidays that I got approached by some other people and I started thinking, you know, maybe I should do something different and really try to bring my skill set into politics and into our state government. And so it was the end of March was my last day at KPMG. And you know, I figured that after to do this you have to do it full time. It’s hard to have another job and not be just fully into this. So I’m in this really, now, about 18 hours a day and then I’m trying to get about 5 to 6 hours of sleep.

WASDEN:  That’s a couple more than our current president and maybe some may accuse me of not getting a lot, either.

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  I was going to say, “That sounds a lot like Jeff!”

WASDEN: [laughs] We’re going to have a chance, Doug, as we enter the next three segments here of this show to really start to talk about energy policy, education, transportation, budget priorities, your view on the current administration, what are your priorities. Thanks for joining us today. Thanks for tuning in!

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Back with more, with our new series Finding Colorado’s Next Governor. We’re talking with Doug Robinson. Join us on the other side of this break. We’ll be right back!

[commercial break]

PROMOTIONAL RECORDING:  The Colorado Business Roundtable brings you Connect and Collaborate, Monday through Friday, from 4 to 5 PM here on Denver’s Money Talk 1690 a.m.  We discuss how to better align business interest work together grow the Colorado economy and make Colorado the best place to live, now and for generations to come. COBRT is  Colorado’s affiliate of the National Business Roundtable in Washington DC, a relationship that gives us connections to top-level CEOs, business leaders, and policymakers here in Colorado, regionally, and nationwide.  CoBRT is an advocate for proactive business policies that strengthen the economy and help businesses grow and thrive in Colorado. We leverage a unique combination of multipliers – media, technology, and marketing — to help our members networks grow. We work together in strategic alliances with lawmakers, industry leaders, and educational institutions to ensure effective policy that supports good business as well as a strong educated workforce. Go to to learn more, subscribe to your newsletter and get involved.


SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  We’re so glad that you’re back with us, here on Connect and Collaborate. And today we’re starting our brand-new series, Finding Colorado’s Next Governor. We are going to be bringing you all of the candidates for governor over the next months. You’ll want to tune in on the last business day of each month. We’ll have a schedule on  If you want to keep on top of that, because it’s kind of a different date every month. But it’s fairly reasonable to follow along. Jeff Wasden is here.

WASDEN:  That works! Doug, let’s just jump right in, here, a chance for folks to get to know you, your family, what brought you to Colorado 21 years ago. That’s quite a long time. Talk a little bit, quickly, about your involvement with the GOP Party, as a Republican candidate.

ROBINSON:  So yeah, I’ve been involved in the GOP for how I would say almost a decade now. [I] got involved in the mid-2000s and served at the local level and was involved in my precinct and so on. And then was elected as a delegate to the Republican national committee in the mid-2000s. Recently I’ve served on a statewide finance committee for the GOP. So I felt like – you know, I feel like conservative policies bring opportunity to families and kids and the way that that gets expressed is through the Republican Party. So I’m proud to be Republican and proud to have been active in the party for a long time.

WASDEN:  We hear all the time, “Government should run like a business,” right? As a business person, what do you think of when you hear that? What does that mean to you? What can you do to fundamentally transform how busi– how our government is being ran today? We hear a lot of talk about the swamp—I’m don’t now that anyone would refer to Colorado as a swamp. But if you were to come in and look at the business of government here in the state of Colorado, how would you transform or change or work with the current foundation and structure of Colorado government?

ROBINSON:  Yeah, that’s a great question, Jeff. And I don’t think Colorado government is a swamp. I do think we have those elements in DC. But I think that fundamentally as a business, — what you do as a businessman is you look at outcomes. What outcomes are you trying to achieve? What are you trying to accomplish? And then, you align spending in order to achieve those outcomes or objectives. And I don’t see that in government, much. When I go down to government meetings and so on, I hear talk about, “Here’s how much we spent last year. Here’s how much the inflation rate is. Here’s how much the population has grown. This is what we need to spend this year.” I don’t think we — I think we need to look at government across, from top to bottom, in terms of what are the outcomes we’re trying to achieve. Do we have it staffed correctly? Are we spending the right amounts in order to achieve those outcomes? And I think there’s some efficiencies there. We have a $26.8 billion state budget. That’s huge! And I think we are going to talk about roads and some things down the road. We need to get efficiencies in order to spend in some other areas.

WASDEN:  Let’s say, — kind of shift that schedule. We were going talk about transportation. But since you brought up the budget, you know, TABOR is looked at is constraining the growth of government. There’s a lot of people that think TABOR is the cause of why we can’t fix our roads today why we can’t get education the money it needs to to improve or talk about education policy and transportation. But based on just the budget looking at the current state budget $26.8 billion today as you mentioned, the outcomes of your budget and the priorities of your budget should reflect what’s important to the state, and how you fund those key components of government. What do you see that’s wrong today with how we are spending the taxpayers’ money of the state of Colorado?

ROBINSON:  Well, first, I would say that I’ve learned to my business career that just throwing money at a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it. And so I’m a big believer and supporter of TABOR. I think TABOR has kept us – that, and the requirement to have a balanced budget — have kept us –. Just look at what the legislature did in the last few weeks. I mean, they were down to the wire, but it was really TABOR and that balanced budget requirement that allowed them to come together and craft a compromise solution that I think was good for our roads was good for rural schools was good for hospitals. So I am I’m a believer and I would keep that in place. I wouldn’t lower taxes. I wouldn’t increase taxes. I think we have to do better with the money that we have and we have to be more efficient in the way we manage our government. And I as I look at the budget. I think the big issue and challenge that were facing over the next few years is the growth of Medicaid. And we’ve gone from 600,000 people on the rolls to over a million. We frankly don’t have the ability to fund the other priorities, education, transportation, those things that are going to be – and our water infrastructure — in the best interest of Coloradans, long-term, with the constraints that we’re talking about. And I hear from a lot of people, “Look at all the people that we’re putting on to healthcare!” I want to talk about taking people off of healthcare — taking them off because they’re finding good jobs. They’re finding a better way to make money, or finding a way to where they don’t need to rely on the government. So I think we need to be focused on shrinking those rolls, maybe putting some incentives in place around healthy living, maybe looking at increasing the cost of the co-pay so that people don’t go to the doctor as often. And I think there are some things that have been done in other states that can cause us to shrink still be compassionate to our people, but shrink the spend on Medicaid so that we can invest in some other areas.

WASDEN:  That’s a great point. I appreciate your view on how we approach these types of issues, right? Because fundamentally, no matter where you are in the ideological spectrum — left or right — how you solve problems is really what we’re electing, right? We’re going to sit down and have a conversation with every candidate — left and right, independent, unaffiliated, third party minor candidates — and have the same questions. How do you approach Medicaid expansion? How do you approach education reform and ensuring that all students have access to, you know, a quality education, a career? And it’s the thought process about how you solve these problems is really what you’re electing, right?  What kind of leader does this state want to have that we feel collectively estate is best suited to lead this forward?

ROBINSON:  Exactly. I mean, you’re putting somebody into the chief executive’s office — office of this state — and one, you want align with the direction that they want to take the state. And so, I have a vision for Colorado being the best place in the nation for families, for raising kids and raising the next generation. And I think that’s where our focus needs to be, on, “Are the infrastructure – as we talked about — that will enable us to absorb the new people that are coming here and the 60,000 new Coloradans that are being born every year?”  But also, you know, we will –you know, we need to elect somebody that has that skill set of analyzing, looking at the issues, putting the best people in place, in order to make those decisions — as challenges comes [sic] — that align with that vision so that we achieve the outcome that we want to.

WASDEN:  Well, and we’re going to have a chance — and part of the reason why we’re doing the series, right, is to certainly present the candidates to the voters — to those decision-makers that are going to say, “This is the individual that we want to lead us because they do align with their specific beliefs on policy,” right?. Let’s jump into transportation. I-25 is shut down today, uh, there are certainly some issues for some folks trying to move up and down, goods and services, efficiency, safety, all the things that the Business Roundtable cares about when you look at that particular issue. There different ways to solve that particular issue. What in your mind is the right level of government support, intrusion, activity, engagement, on an issue like transportation? What do you see is the right solution for our state to solve the transportation infrastructure issues we’re facing?

ROBINSON:  Well, transportation is front and center. One of the key responsibilities — after protecting our citizens keeping us safe educating our kids transportation allowing the free movement of goods and services in us to be able to commute to our jobs and that somewhere where we just haven’t seen a solution. I mean we been talking about this for the last 10 years. Traffic gets worse every year. We don’t have a long-term solution. I was disheartened not to see CDOT have to come in and really explain all of their policies, all the growth in their administrative expenses. I want to understand and frankly I spent a lot of time looking at it on the website and I can’t really get to the answers. How is CDOT really spending their money?  And I — and I’m– you know, there’s probably good reasons with everything they’re doing but we need to look at that agency. We need to look at other agencies. We need to have a long-term transportation plan. Fundamentally, I don’t think that raising taxes is a solution. I think we have the money. If we can find efficiencies and government in order to borrow to have long-term bonding and also to look at private public initiatives were doing some of that in the other parts of the state were doing that with you know E-470 and other roadways where we have a private-public come together in order to solve issues I think will why can’t we do that on I 70 or on I 25 four on our major arteries. So I think that looking at some of those solutions we can get to a way to solve our transportation issues.

WASDEN:  When you look at the proposal. Supper floated specific to the sales tax of .6 to increase candidate Doug Robinson opposed to that approach than in favor of more P3’s and bonding versus a sales tax increase, if I kind of gathered–.

ROBINSON:  Exactly that you know so and I thought I gave a lot of thought about that because it is you know the easy thing to do is just to raise a sales tax. Let’s just raise that and I will have the money now to ask for a gas tax or what have you are tally was raised as a bunch of different taxes, but I think were taxed enough I wouldn’t lower taxes, but I think were our taxes are where they should be and we need to look for other ways to find efficiencies in her government spending so that we can spend the money that we need borrow against the long-term look at public-private new sources of revenue to come in so that we can prioritize and fix our transportation challenges.

WASDEN:  You mentioned education being one of those top priorities. So I’m you have little teaser for our listeners were to talk a little bit about education and its impact on business. The workforce of tomorrow creating opportunities for all students in the state, and how we fund that, how we get more success and drill down into a better education system here in the state of Colorado. That will be coming up right after the break, as we continue our conversation with Doug Robinson, Republican candidate for Governor.

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  That’s right! You’re joining us today on Connect and Collaborate, and we’re starting a brand-new series called Finding Colorado’s Next Governor. We will be bringing you, over the next months, interviews with every candidate for Governor here on Connect and Collaborate. Check out for that schedule. And also send us your questions. Tag us with #FindingCOgov. We will we will share your questions on air. Stay with us. We will be right back with more Connect and Collaborate, the voice of the Colorado Business Roundtable.

[commercial break]

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  We are so glad you’re with us today, on Connect and Collaborate, because we are very proud to partner with the Colorado Business Roundtable along with the Denver Business Journal to bring you in-depth interviews with Colorado’s gubernatorial candidates, that’s our series called Finding Colorado’s Next Governor. We want to ask you to play along a little bit. Go ahead and join us on Twitter at @ColoradoBRT and with the hashtag #FindingCOGov, tell us what questions you want us to ask each of the candidates for Governor, so you are part of the conversation, here.

WASDEN: Yeah, this is great. And we’re having a great kickoff to our series, with candidate Doug Robinson, Republican candidate for Governor. Doug, we had a chance to chat earlier about party involvement, but I want talk about community involvement because I think as the voters make this decision, getting to know you, what’s important to you, your priorities, where you spend your time, what you’re passionate about, is equally telling and revealing. So, talk a little bit about things that you been involved in in the community beside the politics and the party affiliation and engagements. What boards, what priorities, what foundations get you excited?

ROBINSON:  Yeah, it’s interesting. So when I started to pull together myself to run for governor, I realize that all the boards that I’ve been involved in have been around kids. And I have five kids of my own, so maybe that’s not surprising. But I started when I first moved to Colorado that was on the Colorado technology Association board to promote. I guess maybe that’s the only one that’s not promote the growth of the Colorado technology community and we recognize that there was a digital divide that kids from mostly from RNase inner-city neighborhoods, also rural parts of the state, did not have access to technology. The way that other kids did, and that this was limiting them in terms of their career opportunities their college opportunities. So rather than rather than just complain about it. A few of us stepped up and said were to make a difference. So we started an organization called Kids Tech, a nonprofit, that was specifically focused on providing curriculum and instructors in school and after school to provide these kids needed technology skills and so over the years we’ve operated that about 15,000 kids of come through our programs. They have learned 21st-century technology skills. Not just how to type. They come out with a networking certification, a Microsoft Office Specialist certification. This helps them get into college. It helps them with higher paying jobs that they can get right there. So we made a difference in that way. So, that’s one that I’m really proud of. I’ve been involved on the Boy Scouts. I have been involved in my kids schools, on the boards of their schools. We’re going to talk about this a little bit later, but after amendment 64 was passed, my wife Diane and I said, “Somebody’s gotta be looking out for kids as this new industry is commercialized in our state.” So we started an organization to protect kids and educate kids as marijuana is commercialized.  And that’s been very successful, as well. So my passion has been being involved in the community and make a difference for our kids.

WASDEN:  Let’s talk kids right now. Let’s just move right into education — education policy — and talk a little bit around your vision for a world-class education system ensuring that all students have access to the right kinds of education for them to enter into meaningful careers. What is important to you? Where you stand on school choice, things like standardized testing? Certainly, we’ve left the No Child Left Behind era, and now enter ESSA– Every Student Succeeds Act.  Talk a little bit about Doug Robinson’s education philosophy, and what can you share with the voters?

ROBINSON:  Great question, and this is a high priority for me. It’s what — they call it the Colorado paradox, that we are the second most educated state in the country in terms of adults that have Bachelors degrees, yet our – we’re not doing so well by our own kids. Simply our statistics are not acceptable.

WASDEN:  We’re importing talent for those [inaudible] out there.

ROBINSON:  Yeah, exactly!  We are bringing people in, but our kids, as a whole, — there are exceptions to that.  There are some great schools. There are some great school districts. But overall, only 30% of our kids are at math level — grade level — a little bit higher in Science and English — just not acceptable. So, I am a big believer that charter schools and choice create opportunities for families, especially for some of our most needy families. [It] gives them opportunity. And I think that overall, I mean, people say, “Well, that takes money out of the education system.” It does a little bit, but it — I think the competition is well worth it, in terms of creating that environment for our public schools to get better. And frankly, they need to get better. We need to have higher performance, and it starts with their teachers. And I think we need to look at how we recruit, how do we mentor, how do we train, how do we compensate our best teachers so that we can have the highest quality teachers and education in the in the classroom.

WASDEN:  Does education get the funding it needs? Is more money and answer will that help improve the education system here in the state?

ROBINSON:  That’s another thing that I don’t think throwing money at the problem is necessarily a solution. I think we probably could find it a little bit more. I think we can we can we can make investments in education from other priorities in government but it’s really around promoting art our charter schools finding a way to really recruit and train our best teachers putting more STEM into the into the curriculum into into the classrooms. To me that’s an amazing thing to me that you know 40% of our jobs require direct technology training, yet were not really providing the STEM education or classrooms across the state that we can, we ought to be. So I think there’s some things that we can do. In addition yes to to some more than some more money coming from other areas of government but not raising taxes to make that happen.

WASDEN:  You reference your work around the marijuana and post 64 passage that we certainly hearing a lot about addictions right now — prescription pill addiction, certainly youth having access to marijuana work, you stand on 64 on marijuana in the state. The opioid addiction that’s going on right now. Talk a little bit about that.

ROBINSON:  So it’s a problem and I think we have to admit — that’s the first thing of recovery, right?, is to say, “Okay, we have a problem.”  And we have a problem with drugs in Colorado. We are number one — in a bad way — in youth usage across almost all the various drugs and whether it’s opioids here when we done actually quite a bit better with the crack and some other drugs across the country. But here is well with with methamphetamines, but we have a problem with marijuana and opioids and heroin that we need to address. And I was against 64. I didn’t think it was the right thing for our state, but once it passed the argument now changes. It’s not about legalization, it is legal here. It’s how do we protect our kids how do we educate them so that they’re not damaged as this industry goes forward and as the third year, the 35-year-old who wants to recreate on a Saturday night has that opportunity to do so. That’s fine. But I’m interested in keeping it out of the hands of our kids.

WASDEN:  I am going to jump quickly in the last couple minutes in this segment, here, to a question that was actually submitted earlier today, as part of this series around PERA reform, Colorado’s public pension system. And so somebody engaged, saw that we were hosting this series, and wanted to talk about PERA and their reforms.  PERA recently reported that nearly all of their divisions will likely miss the target of being fully funded and 30, 35 years. What is your view on the potential solvency risk that Pera faces and if Gov. what steps would you make to address that challenge of the PERA system — public employees’ retirement system here in Colorado?

ROBINSON:  Yeah, this is a big issue. And I give props to my — I think — potential competitor, Walker Stapleton, who I think is likely to get into the race as the [CO State] Treasure. He has raised this as an issue, and rightly so. It is absolutely an issue that we have. I think fundamentally built pair a unsustainable projection in terms of the expected rich returns and so I think that’s you we can bring the brightest minds together to really figure out what is the solution. These hard-working teachers, they banked on their retirement. To me, it’s kind of like you know some of the other Social Security other challenges that we have at the federal level. How do we look out maybe 5, 10 years and start to make changes where we can keep this solvent in the long run. So, absolutely, that would be a priority for me as governor.

WASDEN:  Okay, I think you just proved to our listeners you are not that career politician, coming in here. Because I think there some rule — Rule #842 in the political candidate playbook – that says you’re not supposed to give props to a future candidate or a candidate out there.

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Competing candidate!

WASDEN:  So, here you are!

ROBINSON:  I’ve known him a long time!  I like him!

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Doug Robinson doesn’t know the playbook!

ROBINSON:  The voters will be able to say what the differences are. Actually, I like a lot of Republican candidates! They are actually good ones!

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Well, there’s no harm in a friendly campaign, is there?

WASDEN:  Let’s talk about that in the next segment, and our current Governor – where you are on Gov. Hickenlooper.

SCHAEFER-SCHMIDT:  Yes, we’ll be back with more, with Finding Colorado’s Next Governor, here, on Connect and Collaborate.