Archive for the ‘US and israel’ Category

which would you rather be?

September 5, 2011

in life, and in your startup, what would you rather be?

this earth digger?

moving earth one bucket at a time

or

    this guy, who skates almost frictionless on ice?

its kind of a loaded question.

yet, it is surprising how often in life and in business we choose the digger.

in Start-up life, as en entrepreneur or CEO, there are several ways you can make your life easier.

yet some people choose to dig a hole rather than skate.

the most common way to make life hard for you self is in your business model.

the most common mistake that is still common amongst early-stage SaaS startups is to go for direct sales:

  • it is costly.
  • it takes a long time to figure out
  • it changes the DNA of your company early. how easy is it to change later to Self-Serve after your VP sales has dedicated a year to sell direct.
  • it effects the leads you seek, and their costs
  • it gives a false sense of control
  • oh yeah, and the switch later, is really painful

most of the above applies to our bad-traits as individuals, too.

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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

or

  • 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

On my way

August 6, 2010

i think friendship is important. it is a big part of my life. and i am very proud of my friends. and my good friends also know my top problem. i am not good at keeping in touch with them, though i try to make it up in intensity, intimacy and quality. so yes, that is my excuse, quality of quantity

perhaps more than family. perhaps (mom says blood is thinker than water). to my friends, and you know who you are, thank you.

i moved to israel from the USA at a young age. Left my parents, two brothers and two sisters behind. i think of myself as a Zionist. friends are a crucial part of my life.

there is nothing like Israeli friends. it is one of the things we should be proud of. but i am lucky enough to have an “Israeli friend” who is American. Kevin. you have probably heard me talk about him countless times. 2 years of life together in college and three months on trains in europe bonded us. love of sports. political discussions. life in startups. computers and design. kevin is a walking TED. every time i pick up a camera, and i love photography, i think of him. he tought me about quality. about the importance of good equipment. about light; and how to capture it. about composition. about typography and beauty.

so when i got an email from him that he is getting married. i was happy. very happy.

last year kevin had a heart attack. since then he has lost half of his body weight. he is healthier and happier. some, if not much of it, is due to Juliet. they met while kevin was on a mileage run to Hong Kong about 6 months ago.

at first i was not sure if i wanted to travel to the philippines during this summer. i already had a personal trip planned to South Africa with my son, Gil. Summer is time to spend with the family, and it would mean that 5 out of 7 weeks i would be away from home when you count in two business trips. and as you may know, i do not travel well.

but my heart stopped my head from thinking too much. the only issue was if Limor will join me or not.

oh, and i am the Best-Man of the wedding. what an honor.

getting to St Bernard on southern Leyte island, Philippines where Juliet was born is not simple. it took me 4 flights, 5 taxi rides, 2 train rides and a long bus ride to get there. 10.275 degrees north of the equator 125.275 west of Greenwich.

2 of my flights were on Cathay Pacific. first time on that airline. all my life i have been told it is the tops. well, it is not. it is yet another airline.

was it worth it to make the trip? should Limor have joined me? will it be a happy wedding? how will the two families, one rural american and one rural Phillipinnes, bond? will i get sick on the way as i often do after many flights? are there more surprises ahead?

shock-o-late

July 28, 2010

what is really israeli?

shoko (chocolate milk) in a bag for breakfast is high on the list. 

it looks slightly less pretty when one drinks it

why it is so deeply en-grained in our culture?

maybe because it is breakfast, early memories, mom, and a certain body part….

but i am here to write about a more serious topic,boards.

just one more reference to the delightful shoko bag. one summer morning i left it on the kitchen counter. in the afternoon, the shoko was not that good. shoko-late and shock-o-late

and now, focus. attention. silence.

one of the most important parameters in having an effective board meeting is ‘when do you send the board package’.

in the past i have even read academic research to support this.

you send a board package late, board will not be effective.

it will be  shock-0-late

remember. boards do not like surprises.

again. boards do not like surprise.

and some board members like to come in prepared.

now for the tough part. how late is late?

i have seen management teams  send the package the morning of the board meeting. this is often as people land in the city of the board from an over-night flight.

what is the message? you really want the board members effective? more importantly, it probably means the CEO and the CFO and other members of the team worked on it all night. how effective are you going to be running a meeting with so little time to prepare?

back to basics. no extremes. is a day before the board good enough?

i say ‘no’. it does not give enough time to prepare.

best is the weekend before the board. this, however, is either not practical or does not have the latest information. still, i encourage you to try it. delight.

how about at least 48 hours in advance? i think it is achievable, allows people time to go over and ponder, and even call and discuss misunderstandings or disagreements.

Israel and USA

April 20, 2010

i am going to attempt to create a list of things that are really different between Israel and the USA

popular inexpensive local car in the 1970's

press here for the entire series

this is in order to help US employees of my portfolio companies to better understand Israeli culture

good luck…

it is also a result of a board call i had yesterday, just as memorial day was trying to smile and independence day still had a gloomy look

try to explain that special hour to Americans – as sadness is tempting to turn to happiness. Gil my son was mad at me for taking the call and asked me to schedule one on July 4th.

if you have any ideas for good stories about differences, i would love to receive them

but here is a starter:

in America, why do you park in a driveway and drive in a parkway?

popular inexpensive local car in the 1970's

Criticism

March 11, 2010

we all know criticism can be lethal

especially in large doses

i need to improve on this front

Moshe, my dear friend, sent this over:

on the wall at the Schechter School (btw, i graduated from Schechter school in Chicago – class of 78 (reflections of the future) :

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.

mission of hope, a story of life and death

January 20, 2010

i am proud of the israeli hospital in haiti

our humanitarian efforts in Haiti are remarkable because

Gubilande Jean Michel holds her son at the IDF hospital in Port-au-Prince on Saturday. He was born there, a month early but healthy, and she has named him Israel.

Jean Michel Gubilande holds her son at the IDF hospital in Port-au-Prince on Saturday. He was born there, a month early but healthy, and she has named him Israel.

  • we live half a world away
  • our efforts are done full-heartedly
  • the results are meaningful
  • the response was quick
  • at the time, the American medical efforts in Haiti are still in planning phases and not operational
  • for once, our disproportionate response is positive
  • and, it is still difficult to find stories of how israel is to be blamed for the earthquake

makes you wonder, when will we help the people 80 km south of here?

for some remarkable stories, perhaps the best i have seen related to israel in a long time:

interview with a brother of a man rescued after 4 days.

even sky news has something nice to say about this.

abc doctor trying to help a pregnant woman and another miracle of birth

and a short, but telling CNN piece, really worth watching: