Moses as an Entrepreneur

Throughout my professional journey in the past decade, moving from non-profits to Government, to private sector, from working with start-ups and entrepreneurs to large corporations, then back to “start-up land”, and above all – building my own business – I have noticed and gathered various insights on today’s world of work and on-demand economy. So, I decided to share some of them with the community.

This time, for Passover, something quite different: Moses as an entrepreneur.

I honestly believe that the Bible is maybe the most entrepreneurial books and story ever told. So, as Passover is just around the corner, I thought to share this time something a bit more inspirational, which I use in various speaking engagements I do in Israel and around the world.

Let’s consider Moses as as entrepreneur:

  • At first, let’s remember that Moses did not grow up dreaming to free his people, the Hebrew slaves.
  • He actually grew up with Pharaoh, in the palace, around the Egyptian royalty and higher society.
  • But, everyone knew that he was that Hebrew baby, son of slaves,who got picked up from the Nile river.

This is a huge lessons about knowing thyself and knowing your “why”. Or, as wise men once said:

Know from where you came and where you are going and before whom you are destined to give account and reckoning. – Mishne Avot, 3, 1.

Moving on with the story background:

  • Moses actually knew the desert before the Exodus.
  • When we was younger, he had to flee Egypt (nevermind, long story), so he went and became a Bedouin, sort of. He lived with Jethro and the people of Midian for a few years, married his daughter…
  • My point is – I guess it helped him quite a bit when he led his people back in that same desert, years later…

This is another huge lessons for a lot of people who start something new. Especially entrepreneurs. You really need to know your market before you’re jumping into it. Don’t “study” it with your market research, live it! Don’t learn about your potential customers – be one of them for a while! Especially in a world where we are all business units, in an on-demand economy. You really need to fall in love with the people you want to serve and help. Not the product you want them to buy from you.

Fall in love with the problem, not your solution – Uri Levine, co-founder of Waze.

Next up:

  • “Giving Pharaoh the finger” and shouting “let my people go” is easy.
  • Even declaring the Exodus and stepping into the desert is still easy.
  • Then, you hit the Red Sea – and you may actually have “beginners’ luck” and the sea will split in two for you. But then – comes the desert of reality. 40 whole years of it.

Boy, this is a big one. I think that so many people start out with the wrong root of motivation. They want to quit their job to “show their hated boss”, or leave their community to “show their friends and colleagues” and make Aliyah, or come to Israel to live on their own for a few months to “show their parents”… So many embark on an adventure due to push factors, not pull factors. For most of them, I believe this becomes a huge threat along the way.

So, let’s talk about that desert:

  • In the desert there is no food, no water, no shade…
  • It’s hot at day, cold at night…
  • The desert is unforgiving and tough.

Well, just like any market, for any business.

  • And even with 400,000 people behind you…
  • Who, sometimes, may disappoint you (like, you come down from Mt. Sinai with your 10 Commandments, and they built a golden calf).
  • When you go first, you see only the desert ahead, the starts above, and everyone is looking up to you. So, you fell very lonely.

Ask anyone who started a business, start-up founder, solo-entrepreneur, freelancer, or anyone who holds a top leadership position in any organization, to tell you about loneliness. Bottom line – it sucks.

And, as for the Promised Land?

  • The promised land is not the Garden of Eden. Too many confuse the two.
  • The Garden of Eden is a fantasy. Does not exist in reality. We ate from the Apple, and we’re not going back. It’s gone, and we have to let go of that fantasy.
  • The promised Land, however, is a real materialistic place. And it’s not perfect… Like, droughts, Philistines, tribes not getting along, kingdom splits… Not a fantasy.
  • But, it is where you want to get to, knowing all of that! It’s where you want your shit to hit your fan, in your home.

The way I see it, so many people actually get to a promised land, pass by it, say “meh…” – and move on, looking for some sort of a Garden of Eden, which does not exist.

There are more beautiful than her, but none beautiful like her – Nathan Alterman, Nishbati Eini.

So, to conclude:

There are so many pragmatic lessons to be learned from this epic entrepreneurial and leadership story. I really believe our heritage has some legacy, values and lessons  that are not only glorious, but also super relevant for the state of the world today.

Chag Sameach (Happy Passover)!

“Moses as an Entrepreneur” – the opening of my speaking engagement: “Our Professional Journey; Crossing deserts to promised lands.”

About the Author
Assaf is passionate about promoting business in and with Israel, helping and mentoring entrepreneurs, advising young professionals with career planning and self-fulfillment, and more. Assaf acts as a brand ambassador of Israel as 'Start-Up Nation, speaking to thousands of businessmen, investors, entrepreneurs, young professionals, students and others, both in Israel and around the world. Assaf also works as a business development and marketing consultant to Israeli start-ups and others.
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