A call to arms for ex-soldiers in business

I became a partner in an early-stage technology business run by an ex-soldier this year. Watching him in action has demonstrated to me how many of the qualities cultivated in the armed forces are also valuable in an entrepreneur: discipline, leadership, teamwork, decisiveness, industry – and the art of getting the job done.

This observation is confirmed in a new book called Start-up Nation, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. It describes how Israel has become a world leader in technology enterprises, thanks in part to the Israel Defense Forces. Military service is compulsory there, and it breeds technologists and successful innovators. Venture capital investment per capita is six times that in Britain, and spending on research and development as a percentage of gross domestic product four times as high. But that money is only productive because there are ideas and individuals to support.

The book’s authors believe the intensive training Israel’s army receives is a vital reason that Intel, Ebay and Microsoft, among others, see it as the most inventive place in the world, next to Silicon Valley.

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About the authors

Stefan Stern writes a column on Tuesdays on management. He is winner of the 2010 Towers Watson award for excellence in HR journalism, and has previously won awards from the Work Foundation and the Management Consultancies Association.

Ravi Mattu is the editor of Business Life, the FT's management features section, and a former editor of the Mastering Management series. He joined the FT in 2000 from Prospect magazine

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