Archive for the ‘books’ Category

together, beginning to end

August 22, 2010

Orna, my mentor, friend and colleague got me this book

Home, or in hebrew habyta by assaf inbari.

the story of kibbutz, a dream created in Israel 100 years ago.

a dream of community, socialism, values, sufficing with little and even less.

i was swept away by the book and recommend it to anyone who:

  • can read hebrew,
  • has a kibbutz in their background,
  • cares about creating communities


  • willing to give up convenience for values

the book is great because:

  • it blurs the lines between fiction and facts in a new and breathtaking way
  • it tells the story of the great kibbutz initiative that helped create israel in a way that was never told
  • it makes you think about what it takes to be a pioneer and entrepreneur. what you are willing to give up, how long it will last, and what does partnership really mean

some of my takeaways:

  • i think i understand my grandfather yeshayahou, who started a kibbutz and bestowed me with many values, much better now. sorry, grandpa, that i ended up a capitalist and not a socialist, but i hope i still have some time to fix that
  • any partnership, or common shared pool which is absolute, can exist, and beautifully so, but only for a relatively short time. years, a decade, not much more. the concept of ‘contribute what you can and take what you need’ can not last far beyond when the founders  themselves change. definitely not beyond a generation, which i consider to be 15 years these days, unless the next generation also has a common set of values and needs, and can change from the original vision while staying together
  • kids paid for their parents dreams, values and actions. paid dearly.

a good friend recently told me he wants to be my partner. ‘do you know what partnership means?’ he asked and answered:

you do all the work, we split the profits 50/50


JD Salinger and dry dates

January 30, 2010

JD Salinger, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature is gone

a few thoughts:

  • i may or may not be still in my adolescence, but agree with holden that most adults are “phony”
  • where do the central park lagoon ducks go during winter? they have a recluse in the park
  • it is hard to walk in Central Park and not think of holden, the book and my brother, Ofer, who connected to its loneliness so fully

for trivia lovers, worth while to read on


JD salinger had a broken heart. this is where some of the best art comes from

out of fracture, comes greatness.

the girl’s name?

oona o’neill daughter of of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning  playwriter  Eugene O’Neill and writer Agnes Boulton.

for those who may remember, O’neill was played by  Jack Nicholson in the movie Reds (for a review of this great film, click here)(along side the fantastic Diane Keaton). which directly makes me think of Reds’ star, co-writer, producer and director Warren Beatty about whom Carly Simon sang, ‘You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you’. more about beatty simon and their dates in a second.

oona o’neill also dated

  • cartoonist Peter Arno,
  • director Orson Welles,
  • (and as stated above, author J. D. Salinger). To Salinger’s disappointment, however, their relationship ended when she met
  • Charlie Chaplin and later become Lady Chaplin, (therefore Salinger’s broken heart).

arno who perhaps is least known today was multi-talented, rich, and handsome.  He exuberated confidence. his sketches were funny, satirical, unique and risky. like the one above.

anyhow, seems that oona had something about her


Beatty has had several high-profile relationships with his costars, including Natalie Wood (Splendor in the Grass), Julie Christie (McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait), Diane Keaton (Reds), Isabelle Adjani (Ishtar) and Madonna (Dick Tracy).

not bad

back to carly simon

who i think is totally wonderful

is also well known for “Anticipation“, which was used as the soundtrack for TC commercials  for Heinz ketchup in the 1970s. The song relates Simon’s state of mind as she waits to go on a date with Cat Stevens. After their brief liaison during 1970-1971 ended amicably, Stevens wrote his song “Sweet Scarlet” about Simon, who also had highly publicized relationships with Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson, and James Taylor during this period.

Oona dated cartoonist Peter Arno, director Orson Welles, and author J. D. Salinger.[citation needed] To Salinger’s disappointment, however, their relationship ended when she met Charlie Chaplin

founders, beware

January 20, 2010

every once in a while you read an article or a book that changes the way you think.

almost like falling in love, you think of it several times a day.

a month later you are a changed person.

please read this blog post. it was published 8 weeks ago, and its comments are very interesting as well. it claims that israeli startups fail because they do not understand and do not invest enough in marketing.

steve duplessie, from my experience is:

  • smart
  • a thought leader
  • like many great people, not full of himself

a great book on a related matter is 4 steps to the epiphany, by steve blank, founder of… E.piphany, once a big company.

here is an abstract, from chapter 2 of the book

my comment to founders and management, before you start spending like crazy on marketing:

  • try to create some measurements. cost per lead is a great start
  • you will not win ‘the game’ if you do not build the best customer acquisition engine in the industry. no matter how good your product is
  • engage with customers. listen. challenge your assumptions. engage with customers some more
  • build a portfolio of marketing activities and test which ones work. start this early and slowly
  • when you spend big, which you should, ask yourself: ‘am i  in good position to know what i am getting for this?’

since you are by now doing something repeatable and scaleable, it is less entrepreneurial.

so founders, beware.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone

December 5, 2009

W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


November 11, 2008

First we just were.

than we became students. we enjoyed things that are well designed, loved to travel, ate out. not exactly like our parents.

without knowing it we became yuppies.

when we got married, we became dinks, but just for a short while, as Carmel, gift of the gods, entered out lives.

another inspirational child, yuval, startups, MBA, Gil enters our lives and all of a sudden, i am a  metrosexual.  overworked, over traveled, under-performing i had to stop and think if i am becoming a retrosexual. brought back teenage memories of real men don’t eat quiche. hardly having the time to ponder, i had thoughts of ubersexual, asexual, middlesexual, mixsexual, undersexual, but concluded that

Emotions, in my experience aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in “sadness,” “joy,” or “regret.” … I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic traincar constructions like, say, “the happiness that attends disaster.” Or: “the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy.” … I’d like to have a word for “the sadness inspired by failing restaurants” as well as for “the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.” (Eugenides, middlesex)

in my middle life, becoming a fat capitalist pig (no wiki entry, so here is a related one) , one thing was clear. i will not be a ‘sporno‘.

unshaven, long hair or just a pony tail, i was flirting with the idea of having a new one word lable to classify me, or not.

arrived in new haven, thinking i am in paradise but trying to understand the point of view of the poor of the world. after my first glass of champagne, i realized that Champagne Socialist may fit, but will not due. too pejorative.

but it is time to go back home. need to decide if we are buying stuff or not to take back to isarel. (if we wait a few weeks, we will be in consumer heaven as markets are crumbling and retailers are pressed). sat down with limor right after our mutual architecture class. time for decisions! are we bourgeois or bohemian? was the discussion.

and so, now we are BoBos.


of Mice and Men

October 23, 2008

John steinback’s novella, Of Mice and Men,  attempts to explain the nature of being human and one’s struggles to identify a place in the universe. In doing so Steinbeck touches on several themes: dreams, loneliness, how man’s prosperity achieves cruelty, powerlessness, and uncertainty of the future — or fate

recommended reading in the past in many high, schools, today it is considered a ‘challenged book’, for its vulgar langauge, and is in effect censored.


this week the temperatures changed sharply from very comfortable to very cold. it made the leaves on the trees even more beautiful. But, with it a side-effect which turns out to be very common in New-England. all the mice in the fields and yards look for warmth, usually in homes much like our very own.

just like almost all kids in israel have lice and no-one wants to talk about it, so it is with mice in this part of the american empire.

some things are more comfortably left in the private sphere, not the public one

are we witnessing the decline of the american empire?

bottom of the pyramid

October 21, 2008

competitive market analysis for NGOs

key takeaways:

there are 4 billion people living on less than $2 per day. think of them as a market. totally new design and distribution.

c.k. prahalad. at U of M considered top business thinker is the leading BOP thinker and entrepreneur

jessy shapiro chicago, nava ashraf harvard

rather than give to poor, offer to sell, once they are willing, give. you get vested interest with a selection.

worth while to discuss the sunk cost fallacy.

list chicago karlan yale – have good work on donor matching.

uri gneezy ex mit now nyu. famous children kindergarten experiment.

michael kremer, harvard – price does not work well when community takes care of it.

dick thaler, there is two of us. bad guy and good guy. ‘commitment’ is how we trap the bad guy. see nudge, perhaps the most important policy/behavioral book of the year

wisebrod did some work on venture philanthropist have little ‘crowding out’ problems – ‘they do not need me’

the bridge at the edge fo the earth

October 15, 2008

discussion with author on his book, the bridge at the edge of the earth

can capitalism sustain the environment? can the environment sustain capitalism?

key takeaways:

  • why ‘green’s are not effective: change from within the system will not work. must change the system.
  • we live in corpo-tacracy – corporates rule.
  • GDP as a poor measure of progress: growth in money supply can be reflective of a loss of well-being: that lacks of essential natural and social services were being paid for in cash and that this was expanding the economy but degrading life
  • the ability of nature to provide services
  • US would be much more secure if it had half the power.
  • over-silo specialization creates ineffectiveness and experts with no common space. this can have a spillover effect to private-public sphere. fudraising could be a reason for a multitude of 1-casue organizations. this survival by fragmentation, differentiation and niche development causes inefficiency and inter-broker co-ordination problems resulting in incoherency.


must see movie documentary. ‘the corporate’. corporates are sociopaths. book by UBC professor bakan. read review. if corporate was a person it would be:

    • Irresponsible – it puts others at risk in pursuit of its own goals.
    • Manipulative – it manipulates people an opinion in pursuit of its goals
    • Grandiose – it always insisting that it is the best
    • Reckless – it refuses to accept responsibility for its actions
    • Remorseless – it cannot feel remorse
    • Superficial – it relates to others always in a way that does not reflect their true selves
    • Put this all together, and you have a psychopath.


only major success to today is CFC

ozone was depleted greatly before that effect was discovered, and it was discovered by accident.

Key terms and ideas:

Leiserowitz, values attitude and behavior discuss five value required for sustainability and has some good graphs and notions

the genuine progress indicator (GPI). modify gdp according to welfare.

  • The GDP vs the GPI is analogous to the difference between the Gross Profit of a company and the Net Profit; the Net Profit is the Gross Profit minus the costs incurred. Accordingly, the GPI will be zero if the financial costs of crime and pollution equal the financial gains in production of goods and services, all other factors being constant.
  • if policymakers measure what really matters to people—health care, safety, a clean environment, and other indicators of well-being—economic policy would naturally shift towards sustainability.

According to Lawn’s model (no wiki, University of Southern Australia), the “costs” of economic activity include the following potential harmful effects:

  • Cost of resource depletion
  • Cost of crime
  • Cost of ozone depletion
  • Cost of family breakdown
  • Cost of air, water, and noise pollution
  • Loss of farmland
  • Loss of wetlands

income vs capital depletion

Hicks (1946) pointed out that the practical purpose of calculating income is to indicate the maximum amount people can produce and consume without undermining their capacity to produce and consume the same amount in the future. From a national income perspective, it is necessary to answer the following question: ‘‘Can a nation’s entire GDP be consumed without undermining its ability to produce and consume the same GDP in the future?’’

enjoyment of life vs production of goods

Fisher (1906) contended that “economic welfare depends on the psychic enjoyment of life,” not just the production of goods.

an interesting measure of environmentally friendly countries is misnamed – happy planet index. take a look at rankings. surprising. perhaps we should travel to countries according to this index.

sacred violence

October 13, 2008

talk about the book sacred violence

key takeaway:

torture can be done unto only someone you deem not equal, lower being

history is driven by extremists, not moderate majority. violent extremists can blow every plan

geneva convention is a joke. it was written by majorities to control violence.

international law ignores politics (as economic policies) and therefore are irrelevent

rather than write a book on law, get politically involved

vision without execution is hallucination

September 30, 2008

leading a global company with geffrey garten. ex under-secretary of commerce, ex dean ex managing director of Blackstone Group

book: the mind of the ceo

click here to read review

are we going thru inflation, deflation, stagflation? for how long?

EMERGING markets. 2000 75% of gdp was in emerging markets. in 2050 25%.

expansion will occur in ‘new countries’ = non OECD, and new groups within those countires

CSR is big, especially for young employees.

CEOs see their role as one that overcomes and eliminates the barriers within their organizations. but they are global leaders. statesmen who deal with multiple governements and the environment.

role of CEO changes. it is too big for one person in a global company.

delegation is a key managerial task

CEOs share:

  • energy
  • surround yourself with great people
  • execution. whatever you do, do well

some good qualities for cross-sector

  • measure
  • know what you do not know
  • what is success, know it in your mind, define it, make it known.
  • ability to assess ‘what is the problem’ in complex scenarios
  • listen. people well tell you a lot of stuff. ‘bury the lede’