I’m heading to Jerusalem today to explore the old and the new. It’s somewhat of an exploration of the past, of what I experienced so many years ago which will either be gone or dramatically changed. It is always this way.
It’s also a necessary exploration without any technology influence before our week of geeks and innovators begin. If you don’t really understand Israeli culture, their candid style and boistrous ways, its hard to truly understand why Israel is as natural for breeding successful start-ups as Silicon Valley has become.
A country roughly the size of New Jersey, most of the technology innovation happens in and around Tel Aviv, although that’s where everyone migrated to in the same way people in the states migrate to San Francisco, New York and LA for business opportunities.
While I’m only a third the way through Rosenthal’s The Israelis, there are two fabulous excerpts worth sharing about Israeli culture. In my experiences, these words hold a lot of truth, on my kibbutz so many years ago, buried in the core of my Israeli friends who live in Europe and the states and in the Israeli CEOs I’ve worked with since I moved to California.
She interviews BRM Technology’s Eli Barkat, an Israeli serial entrepreneur who says:
“To Israelis, the word ‘no’ is a dare. For example, when I tell an Israeli entrepreneur “the deal is dead,” he answers, “how dead? Is it still breathing?” There is no such thing is a dead deal. Israelis always try to find another way. You close the door on them and they jump in through the window.”
And this part is classic, so classic, I burst out laughing through the whole page.
“This proposal sounds interesting” confuses Iraelis. Israeli style is blunt. “This proposal won’t work.” Rarely do Israelis use sentences with phrases like “perhaps you might consider….” of “if you wouldn’t mind.” Instead, they might say “you’re wrong.”
And I’ll add to that. “Why the hell are you doing it that way?” or “Why can’t it happen? What needs to be done to make it happen?” I’ve received a few of those over the years.
It’s almost always with heart however. And its the heart and passion inside these innovators that I look forward to tasting and smelling over the next week and a half.