Arieli, Inbal. “Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship”, Harper Business, 2019.
Israel has the largest concentration of startups per capita worldwide in the world today, with more than one startup for every 2,000 people. A look at the long list of innovations that have come out of Israel includes everything from cherry tomatoes and drip irrigation to the USB flash drive and the Waze traffic app. While many claim that Israel’s outstanding economic achievements are because of its technologically advanced military, tech insider Inbal Arieli argues that it’s the way that Israelis raise their children (in absolute independence) that is responsible for building the resiliency and creativity that is needed for entrepreneurship. Arieli explains how Israeli childhood is shaped by challenges and risk in a tribal-like community, where they develop the courage to pursue unorthodox and often revolutionary approaches to change and innovation.
The root of this is what is known as Israeli chutzpah. This chutzpah includes a determinate approach to life, which might seem to some as rude and opinionated behavior, or more positively, to others, as preferring directness to political correctness for the sake of achieving one’s goals. (my own experience teaching in the Israeli school system showed this to me first hand and at first, it was quite jarring). I have since learned with the right amount of chutzpah, everything is possible.
Israeli children are used to expressing their opinions and we can compare this to an experienced business man framing a creative commercial transaction: he is “instilled with the chutzpah power – determined, courageous, and optimistic that anything can be achieved.”
Arieli’s own experiences both as an Israeli entrepreneur and as a mother of three boys are the sources for her ideas here.
Arieli shows how Israelis are driven toward experimentation, failure and learning, mental and physical risk-taking, and the positive belief that things will be all right. We embark on a journey through the typical Israeli childhood and see how it parallels with the lifecycle of a startup from discovery and exploration of the target market and value proposition, to the actual validation and scale. Arieli says that there are five stages, Discovery, Validation, Efficiency, Scale and Sustainability, Renewal:
- Stage 1:Discovery: in this stage, Israeli children don’t question and act intuitively. They live in a state where things don’t have a preordained order. In business, learn through own experiences rather than explicit teaching
- Stage 2:Validation: Children are open up to criticism, test limits, resilience and experimentation and experience failure in this stage, discuss and learn from it, collect feedback and input from outside sources
- Stage 3:Efficiency: Stage of Israeli teenage years when they use creativity muscles. Israelis live in a constant state of uncertainty and learn to cope with ambiguity. In business, they learn to use more from less while testing the boundaries, applying an agile mindset.
- Stage 4:Scale and Sustainability: the phase when most Israelis join the military. Israeli children learn how to constantly improvise and keep challenging authority
In business, different elements come together to form a more robust organization, where information flows in all directions
- Stage 5:Renewal: When Israeli youth are release from military service with an emphasizes that networks are key. In business, they take on new challenges, stepping out of routine and comfort zone.
In sharing the unique ways in which Israelis parent, educate and acculturate their children, “Chutzpah” gives us invaluable insights and proven strategies for success as entrepreneurs, executives, innovators, parents and policymakers.