Chutzpah! How Israel Became a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship… If you want innovative kids, train their chutzpah muscles

I have chutzpah! 😀 What? Taking a huge shit on the CIA’s floor and saying…
“I want a piece of the biggest discovery in human history, a $280 trillion unlimited energy source with the potential to revolutionise every aspect of science, technology and industry… … if that’s not fucking chutzpah I don’t know what is!” 😀

Chutzpah: How Israel Became a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

by Steve Wenick


A man enters the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Jan. 29, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Baz Ratner.

“It’s impossible,” is not an expression heard in Israel, or one written in Inbal Arieli’s new book, Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, enjoys the highest density of start-ups per capita in the world. What is it about this tiny, resourceful, and creative country that explains its astounding success in technology, medicine, and the military? According to Arieli, it unpredictably starts in pre-school, with students playing with junk.

In clear and interesting detail, Arieli explains the unorthodox approach to child rearing in Israel — an approach which is shunned in most Western countries. For example, in the West, when children are given a new shiny toy, it’s not long before they turn it into junk.

But in Israel, pre-school children are given discarded household items — junk — which they are given the freedom to transform into whatever they can conjure up in their imagination.

JNS.org – When Israel barred two US Congresswomen from entering the country earlier this month, I initially thought it was…

In addition to playing with junk, a second factor for innovation emerges in what Arieli refers to as balagan — chaos. Ironically, she claims, from chaos comes order.

Granted, playing with junk in a chaotic environment is a recipe for potentially hazardous outcomes. Yet not only do Israeli children engage in what we in the West call “playing with fire” — but they exult in it. Take Lag B’Omer, which is celebrated in part by Israeli children building bonfires. Obviously, there is substantial risk in engaging in such an activity, but for Israeli children, it is just one of the ways they learn early in life how to deal safely with the dangerous environment within which they live. That activity encourages risk taking, which is an essential element in fostering successful entrepreneurship.

Arieli asserts that although it is counter-intuitive, measuring success through students’ failures serves as a stepping stone to learning and growth. The “everyone-gets-a-trophy” craze, which has infected Western thinking, confuses participation with excellence. Failure is inevitable for those willing to step out of their comfort zone and take risks. For the Israelis, there is no shame in failure; it is not taken personally. In the Israeli mindset, when things go awry, their response is, I didn’t fail — my project did.

That type of thinking, along with grit, determination, and a can-do attitude, has resulted in the development of the PillCam for endoscopies; Cpoaxone for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis; ReWalk, a bionic system that enables paraplegics to stand upright and walk; the USB Flash Drive; the Pentium MMX chip; WAZE, a GPS system; and countless more.

Finally, Arieli notes that essential to Israeli culture is a sense of optimism. There is a common expression in Israel, Yiheye Beseder, which means, “it’ll be OK.” Chemi Peres, son of former prime minister Shimon Peres, said that his father used to say, “he never heard of a pessimist who discovered a new star.” What becomes clear in Arieli’s excellent rendering is that Israelis believe the stars have been placed in the sky to be discovered.

Steve Wenick is a freelance writer focusing on topics relating to Israel and Judaism.

If you want innovative kids, train their chutzpah muscles

Israeli businesswoman, mother and ISRAEL21c guest columnist Inbal Arieli shares the secret to Israel’s startup success in her new book, ‘Chutzpah.’

By Abigail Klein Leichman August 20, 2019

Photo of Inbal Arieli by Micha Loubaton

If you drew a word portrait of Inbal Arieli, you’d definitely include “self-confident,” “smart” and “successful.” But the picture would be incomplete without the Yiddish/Hebrew term “chutzpah” to describe this Israeli businesswoman, mother, blogger – and now author of Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“Chutzpah” is famously hard to translate. You might say that a person with chutzpah has moxie, nerve, audacity, attitude… or in British parlance, cheek. Arieli calls it “a determined approach to life.” Maybe it’s a little rude, but it gets results. UNCOVER ISRAEL – Get the ISRAEL21c
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Israeli chutzpah is what empowers children to challenge their teachers and later promotes the pursuit of impossible ideas that may result in failure or a Nobel Prize.

Arieli says chutzpah is an essential spice in the secret sauce of Israel’s innovation culture because it fosters entrepreneurial skills from a young age. Her book proposes structures, concepts and principles that can be used by parents, executives, innovators and policymakers anywhere to follow Israel’s example.

“My book presents traits or skills which could be trained. We all have the same anatomy and it’s a question of which muscles you train more. Israelis train specific muscles over others but it’s possible for others to do that, too,” she tells ISRAEL21c.

Those “muscles” have Israeli nicknames that, like chutzpah, are hard to translate.

Arieli explains them in her book and turned them into the Chutzpah Dictionary, a series of lighthearted social-media posts created by Tel Aviv-based Studio OneGroup to introduce concepts such as firgun and balagan.

A post from Inbal Arieli’s Chutzpah Dictionary. Photo: courtesy

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