Discover the secret behind how Israel, a tiny country with the highest concentration of start-ups per capita worldwide, is raising generations of entrepreneurs who are disrupting markets around the globe and bringing change to the world.
Dubbed “Silicon Wadi,” Israel ranks third in the World Economic Forum Innovation Rating. Despite its small size, it attracts more venture capital per capita than any other country on the planet. What factors have led to these remarkable achievements, and what secrets do Israeli tech entrepreneurs know that others can learn?
Tech insider Inbal Arieli goes against the common belief that Israel’s outstanding economic accomplishments are the byproduct of its technologically advanced military or the result of long-standing Jewish traditions of study and questioning. Rather, Arieli gives credit to the unique way Israelis are raised in a culture that supports creative thinking and risk taking. Growing up within a tribal-like community, Israelis experience childhoods purposely shaped by challenges and risks—in a culture that encourages and rewards chutzpah. This has helped Israelis develop the courage to pursue unorthodox, and often revolutionary, approaches to change and innovation and is the secret behind the country’s economic success.
While chutzpah has given generations of Israelis the courage to break away from conventional thinking, the Israeli concept balagan—messiness in Hebrew—is at the root of how Israelis are taught to interact with the world. Instead of following strict rules, balagan fosters ambiguity, encouraging the development of the skills necessary for dealing with the unpredictability of life and business. Living with balagan provides Israelis with the opportunity to constantly practice the soft skills defined by the World Economic Forum as the Skills for the Future, as balagan promotes creativity, problem-solving, and independence—key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.
By revealing the unique ways in which Israelis parent, educate and acculturate, Chutzpah offers invaluable insights and proven strategies for success to aspiring entrepreneurs, parents, executives, innovators, and policymakers.
On the question of how Israel got to be "Silicon Vadi," Arieli, an Israeli military intelligence veteran who founded a leadership coaching company, picks chutzpah as the answer, in her canny but sometimes confused study. The famously prickly Israelis may seem impolite or aggressive, she writes, but they can more accurately be seen as having a no-B.S., all-in approach to pursuing goals. Thus, Israel has the world's highest research and development expenditure proportionate to GDP, and also boasts disproportionate numbers of scientists, tech innovators, and Nobel Prize winners. Arieli, having spent her career working with Israeli entrepreneurs, traces this success back to child-rearing practices. Israel is not a risk-averse society, she observes, and its children are raised to accept mistakes and failures as part of the learning process, while cultivating resilience and independent thinking. She describes a approach to parenting geared toward validation, resourcefulness, accepting and working within one's limitations, and a sense of optimism all fostering entrepreneurship. This could be of great appeal for modern parents, but Arieli seems unsure of whether to focus on child-rearing or on analyzing her own country's general culture. While there are valuable lessons here, the execution seems too niche to have wide appeal.