Naftali T.S. Gordon
Former Homeland Security Analyst

Why Startups in Israel Succeed or Fail

Denzel Washington said in his commencement speech at Dillard University “Don’t Just Aspire to Make a Living, Aspire to Make a Difference” This message can be applied accurately to many different events in life, from business to family. Brilliantly voiced. Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference. So, let’s dig in.

Israel is a nation of incredible vision. From technology, military industrialism, agriculture, medicine and everything in-between, Israel is constantly in the news for their creativity and innovation. The world looks toward Israel for creating innovative solutions to complex problems.

Israeli companies, startups, are thinking outside the box. Medical researchers say that creativity climaxes around our late 30s or early 40s. Israel is a country at its peak of creativity. A young nation striving to progress. Forging a way through industry after industry. Inserting a footprint around the world. Countries regardless of their political views either want to grab on to the innovations or see the nation of Israel fail, precisely because they know the innovations will succeed. Any obstacles that are encountered will be met with solutions. Israel continues progress. Israel a desert country. Thousands of years. How many reading this article would look over at the person across the desk and say, lets make water. During the worst drought in 900 years, that is exactly what happened.

In any crowded arena of startups, there will be a statistical measure for those that succeed and those that fail. What determines the success is not as simple as one philosophy. However, inevitable failure can be almost guaranteed if one simple element is missing. This is the desire to make a difference.

Quarterback for the New England Patriots, Tom Brady, was an overlooked underrated draft pick. Considered sub-par, with words like skinny, poor and can’t in his draft report. No-one would take a second look. Imagine using those words in your resume. Imagine having those words written about you. In many interviews since then, the word “Intangibles” has been used to describe how he became, arguably, the best athlete in American football, of all time.

Intangibles, something that can’t be anticipated or grasped. The intangibles are the difference between success and failure. The desire to make a difference is an intangible. It can’t be quantified; it can’t be relied upon for return on investment. I can’t get a mortgage on my intangibles. However, this is exactly what you need to succeed. The intangibles are the desire to make a difference, which creates success.

After speaking, consulting or researching various small businesses in Israel, it is immediately clear which companies are built on revenue and those that are built from heart and hard work. We need to work and make money. This is a given. Money is not the ultimate goal. I was asked during an interview what is my dream job? I gave the honest answer. I want to open a center which trains dogs for the mentally and physically challenged. Why? Because I want to make money, because I want to be successful. However, I also want to make a difference. To help others, watch them become better, happier or healthier people because of the work that I do.

Many Israeli companies market their products or services so that they can see increased engagements on their social media feeds. Looking at Google analytics to see how many people are accessing their website. They base their business development on their expected monetary return. When their marketing strategy begins to fail, they look at every piece of data and delude themselves into thinking they did everything they could. Without exception, the one thing they failed to incorporate is how their product or service makes a difference. If you can make a difference, and make that the center of the marketing and business development strategy, you will succeed.

When I was working as an Inspector at an airport in Connecticut, I came across a woman walking a service dog. I went up to her and asked her what type of service was the dog trained for? She told me the dog was seizure alert dog, trained to detect oncoming seizures. She further proceeded to tell me a story. Once she was at the beach in the water and the dog came to the waterline going wild and barking. She immediately came out of the water and determined that she was about to have a massive seizure and prevented it with medication. It gave me tremendous pause for thought about my day. Did I make a difference?

Does your business make a difference? Give yourself an honest answer. If the answer is negative, go back to the table, change your business model, business development and marketing strategy.

Watch the video, get more done, stop trying to make a living and start making a difference. Be on that list of successful companies. Make your name known, not for the money but for what it represents. “Don’t Just Aspire to Make a Living, Aspire to Make a Difference”

About the Author
Naftali T.S. Gordon is a former Operations Specialist, Analyst and Explosives Detection Specialist with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Naftali currently monitors intelligence information and is a freelance writer on global-political affairs, United States, Asia and Russian strategic activities. Contact: