Geeks and Heroism in the Holy Land

April 15, 2008 in Israel, It is what it is - opinion column | Comments (0)


Our little ragtag TravelingGeek posse has had quite a time this week. Through our array of experiences – from the unsinkable Sarah Lacy battling what may well be Pneumonia and the startling experience Craig Newmark had while visiting Seambiotic – the wandering geeks have bobbed and weaved through minor adversity, managing to maintain a mostly jovial energy throughout.
But unexpected experience is part and parcel of life here, and I believe are also central to why, as one of my TravelingGeek compatriots, Robert Scoble, commented today, Israel is probably the only place outside of Silicon Valley where the pulse of entrepreneurship beats as powerfully.
From where I sit (which I should mention is on a brand new bus that the Israeli Government got the TravelingGeeks today for our trip to Jerusalem!), it’s clear why innovation and entrepreneurship thrive here.
It’s about fear … or perhaps better to say, lack thereof.
One of the most critical ingredients to a well-baked entrepreneurial spirit is courage. This includes an ability to power forward in the face of adversity and confusion, the inner strength to get up and try again should the venture fail and the skill to focus on the task at hand, even when chaos reigns around you.
Just before our posse rebelled against the planned agenda on Monday, we took a visit to Rambam Medical Center.
Located on the far north of the country, this facility is one of five major hospitals in the country. It’s also 35KM from the Lebanese border. In the summer of 2006, when war broke out and Ketusha rockets began raining from the skies, the staff of this facility stayed by their posts – even when the rockets began to fall closer and closer to them.
My fellow TG Susan Mernit did a quick post about our visit that you can read here.
And here are some pictures I took of Rambam from an overlook above Haifa.
TG_Israel08-rambamcloseview.jpg TG_Israel08-rambamlongview.jpg
So what does this have to do with entrepreneurship and start-ups?
In my mind it’s simple.
When you have a culture where getting on the bus in the morning and going to work carries such a powerful risk – like potentially being blown up by a rocket or suicide bomber – the spector of failing at a start-up, I think, pales in comparison.
The people here – be they Israeli or Arab – have a sense of purposefulness about their day to day existence that keeps a rather healthy perspective on that which we sometimes take all too seriously back here in the cush and comfort of the US.


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