Israel lives up to its reputation as the Start-up nation. Israeli start-ups are everywhere. It is what people aspire to. It is what they dream of.
There are many reasons given for this success. Israel has little in the way of natural resources, so it has had to create its wealth from the one thing it does have, its people. Then there is the unique role of the Israeli Defense Forces, and in particular the elite intelligence unit, 8200. At one start-up, all of the coders had met there. It functions almost as a high-tech networking event.
And then there is the unique Israeli culture and spirit. Call it chutzpah, call it simply refusing to be told what to do. For some it would be determination, an admirable quality in an entrepreneur, for others it looks a lot like sheer stubbornness — a less desired trait.
So what is his theory for the success of this country of only 7.5 million and its ability to punch way over its weight?
‘Jewish mothers,’ he says. ‘We succeed because of the guilt we all feel. From birth we are told we have to be better, that we are such a disappointment.
‘You know the difference between an Italian mother and a Jewish one? An Italian mother says to her son ‘Eat this food or I will kill you.’ A Jewish one says ‘Eat this food or I will kill myself.’
‘They are our secret.’
Very interesting perspective that chimes with my model of accumulated choices: emphasizing mom role more than teachers, teachers more than professors