Posts Tagged ‘america’

The man in the arena

January 16, 2012

it is the beginning of the year.

happy new year. 2012. the end of history?

maybe just something different.

expect the unexpected?

some of my companies are struggling.

the 2nd half of 2011 has been miserable. everyone is waiting. people seem to prefer to delay decisions. channels are clearing their inventory levels, with no new orders. people are zipping their pockets. money is not coming out. with a few exceptions.

two classes. the haves and have-not’s. the ones who have clear growth.  predictability. visibility. and the ones who are working just as hard. trying to figure it out. that is why we choose this.

i realize i am not in the trenches. my job, my line,  is to support the entrepreneurs who are in the front. not a lineman, a line-backer.

Here is how Teddy Roosevelt described it in an April 23rd, 1910, speech in the Sorbonne, now named citizenship in a republic.

here is looking at you

Amir, Israel, Yuval, Omer, Nili, Yonathan, Zvi, Tal, Guy, Avner, Pierre, Guri and Doron:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

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?

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

Give me your tired, your poor

April 13, 2010

in the last month or so, three different times a US VC said no to a deal we were working on.

the usual reply is that it is really interesting, but

there is some risky or serious work to do:

  • the CEO is not proven
  • the go to market is unclear
  • can it scale?

so, we are left with the deal.

alone.

reminds me of Emma Lazarus‘  ‘The new Collossus‘ (which welcomed, in spirit, immigrants to the land of opportunities and freedom, America):

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

the poem by the way was solicited as a donation to an auction. it took some time, but now it is not only engraved on the Statue of Liberty, but also in the collective American memory.

believing in the unwanted made America great.

don’t we alone want for someone to just ‘take a chance on me‘?

SFO airtrain

April 2, 2010

The SFO airtrain is a big savior

What a change from their previous dumb buses

Connectivity to terminals is, well, not european: you need to go up, then down, then an elevator, then you can feel as if you are in a civilized, mass transit aware urban center. while you are going to the 5th floor of the parking lot  thru the basement the signage system is also, well, american. not consistent, not fun to look at, not obvious.

i still love the airtrain.  I love the vocals and sounds
‘Please hold on. Please set luggage carts brake to ‘on”
For me, its a lullaby

the road from slavery to freedom

March 28, 2010

a great holiday is coming. hag sameach. passover. what a misnomer. you can not just pass-over the subject of the path from confinement to liberty, from slavery to … is freedom the word? i was hoping salvation, but no, freedom is a good fit.

( btw tried to find a picture for freedom. this is what google images gives you. scary)

but this is the photo i choose

מעבדות לחרות

i was trying to think what does  it really mean to go from bondage and servitude to freedom. the idea was not easy for me. i decided the steve jobs captures the idea quite nicely:

“Your time is limited,

so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.

Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

– Steve Jobs

if you have not seen SJ’s stanford’s graduation speech back in 2005, please do so now. before the holiday. it is a bit long, but worth your time. you will enter the holiday a different person; one in charge of your destiny.

i was trying to see if the word salvation can replace freedom.( it is a better play on letters with slavery) and decided it is not appropriate. below is wikipedia’s explanation. in a nutshell, it has too much to do with sins and after life. (גדול עלי).

since this is the holiday of freedom, i thought it is also appropriate to mention one of the greatest documents i have ever read. the US Constitution and its declaration of independence. its firsts real sentance (other than we the gathered here….) states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident,

  • that all men are created equal,
  • that they are endowed … with certain unalienable Rights.
  • that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

i like it a lot. i think pesach is the holiday of equality. i also like the fact that it does not say we have the right to be happy, but the pursuit of Happiness

p.s.

salvation

In religion, salvation is the concept that God or other Higher Power, as part of Divine Providence, saves humanity from spiritual death or Eternal Damnation by providing for them an eternal life (cf. afterlife). The world’s religions agree that humanity needs salvation from its present condition. However, they hold irreconcilable positions on what it means from an eternal perspective to become saved, the actual way to get saved, and the resources needed to attain salvation.

The theological study of salvation is called soteriology. It covers the means by which salvation is effected or achieved, and its results. Salvation may also be called “deliverance” or “redemption” from sin and its effects.

Some religions claim that salvation can be attained by using only inner human resources such as meditation, accumulation of wisdom, asceticism, rituals, or good deeds. Other religions teach that humans can be saved only through the grace granted by an external personal agent (God, a bodhisattva, an avatar, etc.) One’s duty is to recognize the impossibility of being saved by one’s own efforts, and therefore accept grace unconditionally.[1

rosewood – luxury hotels

March 18, 2010

had the priveldge to stay at rosewood sand-hill road

luxurious hotel. we got special rates

still, it is too much

over-service and under-value for the customer. i guess i am not their target customer:

  • you can not open a door yourself. they walk you to your room. the extra service means they try to park for you, they open and close the curtains in your room for you. too much
  • decor is fancy but does not have harmony. fake
  • a phone in the toilet. again, too much. at certain times i want to be with myself
  • another annoying service. every evening the come in. put on the radio, put on your bed a laundry bag and a request for you to comply with no change of sheets. i am ok with no change of sheets. i do not change them daily at home.  i would have preferred a chocolate bar on my bed instead.
  • another service that diminshes value. in the shower, i leave the temperature knob at a certain position, in this case around 9 o’clock, or 42 degrees celcius. as a service to me, the change the position to 12 o’clock. thanks. it who did that actually help?

some nice stuff however:

  • walk in closet
  • shampoo and soap are out of a nice dispenser. seems cleaner, feels more like home, and costs less. smart
  • location is fantastic
  • great restaurant
  • and great atmosphere with people laughing and interacting in public spaces till late at night. very unusual for california hotel. definitely not the sleeping warehouses i usually stay at.

under value:

  • parking, i do not do valet – just the wrong upbringing i guess cost $20 per night.
  • wifi? free? nop. how about $12.99 per day?
  • bowl of fruit for $5? $6.99? why not $15? all before tax

i really believe in buying in supermarkets. try it every trip. it is local, fun, and inexpensive

fancy restaurants once in a while to average the costs

plastics

February 9, 2010

plastics is not only the future

(boy, i liked that movie -the graduate. for its music, its promise and pressure of the future, and for its lack of predictability. and a great depiction of a great time period)

it is also an answer to a deep philosophical question:

why are we here?

George Carlin – Saving the Planet

when the saints, go marching in

February 9, 2010

a few thoughts about superbowl XLIV:

  • it is a new American holiday. similar to thanksgiving 400 years ago. thank you for america, for capitalism, for sports.  my parents were hosting yesterday. my parents. sports…
  • in the ESPN international broadcast they said “from Miami, FL, USA”. not often you would hear Americans state a location  in the format of city, state, country. it is a sport with great international following. still, to call the winners the world champions. doesn’t the American champions suffice?
  • if you had to expand the brand how would you do it? a non US team? a longer season? NBA –  an 82-game season before a long playoff seem crazy too.
  • even if you wanted the saints to win, you did not give yourself a chance to believe in it
  • it is a great redemption for those seating in the stadium with bags on their faces a few years back. the saints winning a play-off game? just 2 in 42 years and i think both were in 2006
  • reminds  me of the stories 40 years ago of super bowl iv and how KC won despite the vikings being heavy favorites. sean payton is a bit like hank stram

sean payton superbowl XL IV champs head coach

hank stram superbowl IV champs head coach

  • no NFL season MVP has won the Superbowl.
  • manning in 4th quarter was not what you expected. the quarter started colts 17 saint 16, colts with the ball and manning completing a 15 yard pass to about mid field. drive ended in missed field goal. talk about change in momentum
  • wasn’t this the superbowl with the least turnovers (1) (and sacks – 1) in a long time?

answer: turnovers:

this one had 1. record is 0

Buffalo vs. N.Y. Giants, XXV
St. Louis vs. Tennessee, XXXIV

sacks – hard to find an answer

  • i did believe that if the saints will score 30 or more they will win
  • XLIV – some kids tell me they had to learn Roman Numerals
  • seems that to be a true champion, you have to adjust your game and to control momentum. momentum does not just swing wildly. champions learn to use it
  • drew brees was not good enough for SD chargers and a ‘maybe’ for Miami dolphins before the saints took a chance on him. they were 3-13 in 2005.
  • let Mardi Gras begin. it never really ends

2011 crash?

February 3, 2010

what if like many earthquakes , at first there is a tremor, some damage, recovery, smiles and then the big hit.

what if the financial crises of 2008, recovery in 2009 with smiles in 2010 results in a big crises in 2011.

1755_Lisbon_earthquake

a bit morbid

but, important to analyze.

Kevin, my good friend sent this over. when kevin asks you to read something, a good portion of the time, you really want to read it. kevin is blessed with outside-of-the box thinking, contrarian point of view, blended with down-to-earth smarts, and the ability to think different and say it.

i think you should read this . (un?) likely but plausible

basically,

“Over any extended period of time, no economy can be prosperous if the government is

  • overspending,
  • raising tax rates,
  • printing too much money,
  • over-regulating, and
  • restricting international trade.

It’s really as simple as that. Especially when the U.S. economy appears to have “green shoots”, it’s imperative to remember the U.S. economy cannot have prosperity given the policies of the Obama administration and Congress”

moreover,

During 2010 the economy will continue to improve, growing by more than 4%.

By the end of 2010 the unemployment rate could fall to as low as 7.0% and the Obama Administration will be busting with pride and conceit. And then 2011 will enter center stage, followed quickly by an economic catastrophe.

All the factors that will make 2010 (and have already made the last half of 2009) look so good will reverse direction, and 2011 will be a train wreck. The first effect is the so-called “slingshot” or “freefall” effect. Whenever an economy stops freefall, as the U.S. economy has, everything seems better because it’s getting worse more slowly. The slingshot effect will exert a powerful positive influence on the U.S. economy in 2010 but won’t exist in 2011.

if this is indeed the case, what should we do today?

looking for a new job?

about to commit to a new house?

consider this and may the force be with you.

i am still optimistic, but think this should be on our radar screens