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Meet David Applefield

David Applefield and Julia Applefield-Alvarez

“Most of my time is devoted to finding solutions. What I bring to NJ4 is a fresh vision—ideas that will work. And a belief that a few good questions will lead to a bunch of ideas. And at least one will work!”

Everything I’ve done in my life up to now, including the decades I’ve worked and lived abroad, has been in preparation for this: bringing home what I know how to do.

I was born in Elizabeth and grew up in Newark, New Providence, and Livingston. My dad was an All-State New Jersey baseball pitcher from Union. My mom was a child Holocaust survivor who arrived in Rahway in 1947. They both went to Rutgers, and married in Carteret 1954. My father worked as a teacher and then stockbroker, and my mother became a social worker.

After high school, I studied at Amherst College and graduated in 1978 with a BA in English. After completing a Masters in English at Northeastern University, I landing a job at UNESCO and then taught at the American University in Paris, where I wrote the guidebook Paris Inside Out and two novels. I started a small publishing and media company and learned the hard way what it means to run your own small business.

The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook by Seth Godin helped me realize that I was a guerrilla. That creativity is our greatest asset. The best way to make something happen is to think about it. And talk to everyone. Our greatest piece of technology is our ability to make sentences. Language is our most potent fuel.

The London-based newspaper The FINANCIAL TIMES hired me to sell ads, a job that I ultimately transformed into the FT Special Projects Representative. For 20 years I have been publishing special reports on themes like Youth Employment, Leading Businesswomen, Green Energy, African Fashions, Revitalizing US Cities, and Combating Diseases. I’ve worked Europe, across Africa, and throughout the Middle East. I figure out how to connect important content with the commercial support needed to fuel the project. There are only two real questions when it comes to making things happen: What do we want? And how do we pay for it? Content and Commerce. The What and the How. For my entire professional life I have been working on the question: How to bring the What and the How to the same table. And I’m good at it.

Beyond the publishing and the newspaper work, I have responded to requests by the US State Department to train journalists and media professionals around the world. If we can help young people learn to use media toward good ends, we can help improve the world. I’ve worked in 35 countries, and I have a massive address book of friends and contacts and business leaders. Along the way, I can’t help myself from saying yes when young entrepreneurs need a hand with start-ups, when non-profit organizations ask for ideas on fund-raising, when companies, and even presidents need advice on how to promote economic growth and attract investment.

Today, I am bringing this all back home. To New Jersey. To Nj4. I already have a handful of companies that want to set up here, and be part of the 2B4 Movement. Talented people who have great ideas and great inventions and big dreams for making things, fixing things, changing things, building companies, earning money.

Nj4 is open. We have space. We have great people. We have talent. But let’s bring ideas that provide good jobs. Let’s bring ideas that generate wealth and are healthy and helpful to our towns and our shoreline. Let’s produce local revenue and drive down our tax burdens. Let’s make sure we hire everyone at decent wages. Let’s support labor. Let’s reward our teachers who are doing extraordinary work. The hardest part is the thinking and talking. The rest will follow.

Sorry, I got off subject … I do that when I get excited about what I know we can do together.

We can fix just about anything with a steady flow of local, imaginative ideas for NJ4. We just need the courage to talk about things that are challenging, and to ask openly WHY things are the way they are. Why healthcare is so expensive? Why we are not protecting our environment enough? Why a District with so much talent continues to send the same person to Washington for so many years?

I have a detailed plan for all of this. A plan for financing local businesses, funding local projects, sponsoring local programs, and empowering local entrepreneurs. I also have a plan to set up cultural and educational exchanges including travel overseas. I have a vision for bringing world-class cultural figures and social thinkers to NJ4.

We can fix this if we talk.

We need to return to the values of the common good, while being open to the opportunities of new industries and services. Mostly, we need to see with our hearts, ask questions without fear of judgment, aim high, and talk!

That’s who I am.