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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