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Start-Up Nation Book Summary, Review, Notes

Start-up Nation tells us the story of Israel’s economic miracle: one startup on every 1,800 Israelis. The book describes how a bottom-up culture, military, the concept of brashness and sincerity (chutzpah), and interconnectedness were the main ingredients of building a start-up nation.


Book Title: Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle
Author: Dan Senor, Saul Singer
Date of Reading: March 2017
Rating: 7/10

Table of Contents

What Is Being Said In Detail:

Start-up Nation has a four-part structure that explains how Israel became a startup nation.

The Little Nation That Could…

…explains how Israelis are persistent people and how they put twenty-something kids into battle situations where they have to learn how to lead people. 

These formative experiences shape the nation’s youth into responsible people and give them skills that they can use as entrepreneurs: decision-making, stress-managing, leadership, risk-taking, and leadership. The chapters in this part are:

  • Chapter 1: Persistence
  • Chapter 2: Battlefield Entrepreneurs

Seeding a Culture of Innovation…

…shows us the importance of education in Israel and how their universities function, how Israelis walk the thin line between order and chaos, and how they built necessity from their geographical location. The chapters in this part are:

  • Chapter 3: The People of the Book
  • Chapter 4: Harvard, Princeton, and Yale
  • Chapter 5: Where Order Meets Chaos


…takes us through the story of how Israel came to be. Everything from the founding days of David Ben-Gurion and how Israel took in immigrants the size of one-fifth of their population, to the role the diaspora played (and still plays) in making the country. The chapters in this part are:

  • Chapter 6: An Industrial Policy That Worked
  • Chapter 7: Immigration
  • Chapter 8: The Diaspora
  • Chapter 9: The Buffett Test
  • Chapter 10: Yozma

Country with a Motive…

…describes how Israel’s defense forces (IDF) came to be, how the harsh political, social, and geographical environment serves as motivation and opportunity for innovation, and what kind of reforms were needed to make Israel an economic miracle in the region. The chapters in this part are:

  • Chapter 11: Betrayal and Opportunity
  • Chapter 12: From Nose Cones to Geysers
  • Chapter 13: The Sheikh’s Dilemma
  • Chapter 14: Threats to the Economic Miracle

Most Important Keywords, Sentences, Quotes:


“a total of 3,850 start-ups, one for every 1,844 Israelis,” 

“stagnant economy. “Everything was rationed,” complained one new arrival. “We had coupon books, one egg a week, long lines.” The average standard of living for Israelis was comparable to that of Americans in the 1800s. 

How, then, did this “start-up” state not only survive but morph from a besieged backwater to a high-tech powerhouse that has achieved fiftyfold economic growth in sixty years? 

How did a community of penniless refugees transform a land that Mark Twain described as a “desolate country . . . a silent, mournful expanse,” into one of the most dynamic entrepreneurial economies in the world?”

“explanation is that adversity, like necessity, breeds inventiveness. Other small and threatened countries, such as South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, can also boast growth records that are as impressive as Israel’s. 

But none of them have produced an entrepreneurial culture—not to mention an array of start-ups—that compares with Israel’s.” 

“McWilliams explains, “Israel is quite the opposite of a unidimensional, Jewish country. . . . It is a monotheistic melting pot of a diaspora that brought back with it the culture, language and customs of the four corners of the earth.”

“But Israel specializes in high-growth entrepreneurship—startups that wind up transforming entire global industries. 

High Growth entrepreneurship is distinct in that it uses specialized talent—from engineers and scientists to business managers and marketers—to commercialize a radically innovative idea.”

PART I The Little Nation That Could

Chapter 1: Persistence

“Thompson went back to Meg: “We need to make a decision. They’re here.” She gave him the go ahead: “Let’s buy it.” 

After some valuation work, they offered $79 million. Shaked declined. The Fraud Sciences board, which included the Israeli venture firm BRM Capital, believed the company was worth at least $200 million.”

”You’ve got to understand the Israeli mentality,” he said. “When you’ve been developing technology to find terrorists—when lots of innocent lives hang in the balance —then finding thieves is pretty simple.”

“The next thing that struck Thompson was the demeanor of the Fraud Sciences employees during the all-hands meeting at which he spoke. Each face was turned raptly to him. No one was texting, surfing, or dozing off.” 

“The intensity only increased when he opened the discussion period: “Every question was penetrating. I actually started to get nervous up there. 

I’d never before heard so many unconventional observations—one after the other. And these weren’t peers or supervisors, these were junior employees. 

And they had no inhibition about challenging the logic behind the way we at PayPal had been doing things for years. I’d never seen this kind of completely unvarnished, unintimidated, and undistracted attitude. I found myself thinking, Who works for whom?”

“Leo Rosten’s description of Yiddish—the all-but-vanished German-Slavic language from which modern Hebrew borrowed the word—chutzpah is “gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts,  presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to.”

“ An outsider would see chutzpah everywhere in Israel: in the way university students speak with their professors, employees challenge their bosses, sergeants question their generals, and clerks second-guess government ministers. 

To Israelis, however, this isn’t chutzpah, it’s the normal mode of being. Somewhere along the way—either at home, in school, or in the army—Israelis learn that assertiveness is the norm, reticence something that risks your being left behind.” 

“Israel, likes to cite what he calls the “nickname barometer”: “You can tell a lot about a society based on how [its members] refer to their elites

Israel is the only place in the world where everybody in a position of power—including prime ministers and army generals—has a nickname used by all, including the masses.”

“But until the 1970s, computers were used predominantly by rocket scientists and big universities. Some computers took up whole rooms or even buildings. 

The idea of a computer on your office desk or in your home was the stuff of science fiction. All that began to change in 1980, when Intel’s Haifa team designed the 8088 chip, whose transistors could flip almost five million times per second (4.77 megahertz), and were small enough to allow for the creation of computers that would fit in homes and offices.” 

“Dadi Perlmutter recalls the shock of an American colleague when he witnessed Israeli corporate culture for the first time. “When we all emerged [from our meeting], red faced after shouting, he asked me what was wrong. I told him, ‘Nothing. We reached some good conclusions.’“

“Perlmutter later moved to Santa Clara and became Intel’s executive vice president in charge of mobile computing. His division produces nearly half of the company’s revenues. 

He says, “When I go back to Israel, it’s like going back to the old culture of Intel. It’s easier in a country where politeness gets less of a premium.”

“Israelis do not have a very disciplined culture. From the age of zero we are educated to challenge the obvious, ask questions, debate everything, innovate,” says Mooly Eden, who ran these seminars.” 

Chapter 2: Battlefield Entrepreneurs

“As usual in the Israeli military, the tactical innovation came from the bottom up—from individual tank commanders and their officers. 

It probably never occurred to these soldiers that they should ask their higher-ups to solve the problem, or that they might not have the authority to act on their own. 

Nor did they see anything strange in their taking responsibility for inventing, adopting, and disseminating new tactics in real time, on the fly.”


“Yet what these soldiers were doing was strange. If they had been working in a multinational company or in any number of other armies, they might not have done such things, at least not on their own. 

As historian Michael Oren, who served in the IDF as a liaison to other militaries, put it, “The Israeli lieutenant probably has greater command decision latitude than his counterpart in any army in the world.”

”The IDF is deliberately understaffed at senior levels. It means that there are fewer senior officers to issue commands,” says Luttwak. “Fewer senior officials means more individual initiative at the lower ranks.”

”The most interesting people here are the company commanders,” Farhi told us. “They are absolutely amazing people. These are kids—the company commanders are twenty three. 

Each of them is in charge of one hundred soldiers and twenty officers and sergeants, three vehicles. Add it up and that means a hundred and twenty rifles, machine guns, bombs, grenades, mines, whatever. Everything. Tremendous responsibility.”

“Speaking of the company commanders who served under him, Farhi asked, “How many of their peers in their junior year in colleges have been tested in such a way? . . . How do you train and mature a twenty-year-old to shoulder such responsibility?”

“Nati Ron is a lawyer in his civilian life and a lieutenant colonel who commands an army unit in the reserves. 

“Rank is almost meaningless in the reserves,” he told us, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. “A private will tell a general in an exercise, ‘You are doing this wrong, you should do it this way.’ “

Orders are given and obeyed in the spirit of men who have a job to do and mean to do it, but the hierarchy of rank is of small importance, especially since it often cuts across sharp differences in age and social status.”

“You would sit around with a bunch of Israeli generals, and we all wanted coffee. Whoever was closest to the coffee pot would go make it. It didn’t matter who—it was common for generals to be serving coffee to their soldiers or vice versa. There is no protocol about these things.” 

PART II Seeding a Culture of Innovation

Chapter 3: The People of the Book

“Orna Berry told us, “Hightech telecommunications became a national sport to help us fend against the claustrophobia that is life in a small country surrounded by enemies.”

“What is the value of the attributes that Israelis have developed as a result of the constant efforts to crush their nation’s development?” 

“Netafim was pioneering not just because it developed an innovative way to increase crop yields by up to 50 percent while using 40 percent less water, but because it was one of the first kibbutz based industries. 

Until then the kibbutzim—collective communities—were agriculture-based. The idea of a kibbutz factory that exported to the world was a novelty.”

Chapter 4: Harvard, Princeton, and Yale

“While it’s difficult to get into the top Israeli universities, the nation’s equivalent of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale are the IDF’s elite units. 

The unit in which an applicant served tells prospective employers what kind of selection process he or she navigated, and what skills and relevant experience he or she may already possess.” 

The war was a costly reminder that Israel must compensate for its small size and population by maintaining a qualitative and technological edge. 

The professors approached then IDF chief of staff Rafael “Raful” Eitan with a simple idea: take a handful of Israel’s most talented young people and give them the most intensive technology training that the universities and the military had to offer.” 

“Rather, it is to transform them into mission-oriented leaders and problem solvers.”

“650 graduates in thirty years, they have become some of Israel’s top academics and founders of the country’s most successful companies.”

“innovative, adaptive problem solving—is evident throughout much of the military and seems to be part of the Israeli ethos: to teach people how to be very good at a lot of things, rather than excellent at one thing.” 

Dan Senor Quote

”There is something about the DNA of Israeli innovation that is unexplainable,” Shainberg said. But he did have the beginnings of a theory. “I think it comes down to maturity. 

That’s because nowhere else in the world where people work in a center of technology innovation do they also have to do national service.” At eighteen, Israelis go into the army for a minimum of two to three years. 

If they don’t reenlist, they typically enroll at a university. “There’s a massive percentage of Israelis who go to university out of the army compared to anywhere else in the world,” said Shainberg.” 

“Shainberg reasoned. “They’re much more mature; they’ve got more life experience. Innovation is all about finding ideas.”Innovation often depends on having a different perspective. 

Perspective comes from experience. Real experience also typically comes with age or maturity. 

But in Israel, you get experience, perspective, and maturity at a younger age, because the society jams so many transformative experiences into Israelis when they’re barely out of high school. 

By the time they get to college, their heads are in a different place than those of their American counterparts.”

“This maturity is especially powerful when mixed with an almost childish impatience.”

“American entrepreneur who has invested in several Israeli start-ups, described it, “When an Israeli man wants to date a woman, he asks her out that night. 

When an Israeli entrepreneur has a business idea, he will start it that week. The notion that one should accumulate credentials before launching a venture simply does not exist. 

This is actually good in business. Too much time can only teach you what can go wrong, not what could be transformative.”

“The social graph is very simple here. Everybody knows everybody; everybody was serving in the army with the brother of everybody; the mother of everybody was the teacher in their school; the uncle was the commander of somebody else’s unit. 

Nobody can hide. If you don’t behave, you cannot disappear to Wyoming or California. There is a very high degree of transparency.” The benefits of this kind of interconnectedness are not limited to Israel, although in Israel they are unusually intense and widespread.”

“Al Chase told us that a number of the vets he’s worked with have walked a business interviewer through all their leadership experiences from the battlefield, including case studies in high-stakes decision making and management of large numbers of people and equipment in a war zone, and at the end of it the interviewer has said something along the lines of “That’s very interesting, but have you ever had a real job?”

Chapter 5: Where Order Meets Chaos

”The fear of losing face, and the bursting of the Internet bubble in 2000,” he told us. “In Korea, one should not be exposed while failing. Yet in early 2000, many entrepreneurs jumped on the bandwagon of the new economy. When the bubble burst, their public failure left a scar on entrepreneurship.

“In these group debriefs, emphasis is put not only on unrestrained candor but on self-criticism as a means of having everyone—peers, subordinates, and superiors—learn from every mistake. 

“It’s usually ninety minutes. It’s with everybody. It’s very personal. It’s a very tough experience,” Dotan said,recalling the most sweat-inducing debriefings of his military career. 

“The guys that got ‘killed’ [in the simulations], for them it’s very tough. But for those who survive a battle—even a daily training exercise—the next-toughest part is the debriefing.”

“Nor is the purpose of debriefings simply to admit mistakes. Rather, the effect of the debriefing system is that pilots learn that mistakes are acceptable, provided they are used as opportunities to improve individual and group performance. 

This emphasis on useful, applicable lessons over creating new formal doctrines is typical of the IDF. The entire Israeli military tradition is to be traditionless. Commanders and soldiers are not to become wedded to any idea or solution just because it worked in the past.” 

“And yet, even in victory, the same thing happened: self examination followed by an overhaul of the IDF. Senior officials have actually been fired after a successful war.” 

“The Israelis, on the other hand, have been so dogmatic about their commissions that one was even set up in the midst of an existential war. 

In July 1948, in what Eliot Cohen described as “one of the truly astonishing episodes” of Israel’s War of Independence, the government established a commission staffed by leaders from across the political spectrum while the war was still going on. 

The commission stepped back for three days to hear testimony from angry army officers about the government and the military’s conduct during the war and what they believed to be Ben-Gurion’s micromanagement. 

Setting up a commission amid the fighting of a war was a questionable decision, given the distraction it would impose on the leadership. But, as Yuval Dotan told us earlier, in Israel the debrief is as important as the fighting itself.”

“Six companies of troops (roughly six hundred soldiers) were able to kill some four hundred Hezbollah fighters in face-to-face combat while suffering only thirty casualties, but the war was considered a failure of Israeli strategy and training, and seemed to signal to the public a dangerous departure from the IDF’s core ethos.” 

“the chief of staff’s decisions. There is no question that the final word rests with the chief of staff, and once decisions have been made, all must demonstrate complete commitment to their implementation. 

However, it is the senior officers’ job to argue with the chief of staff when they feel he is wrong, and this should be done assertively on the basis of professional truth as they see it” (emphasis added).” 

“They define that edge as “the estuary region where rigid order and random chaos meet and generate high levels of adaptation, complexity, and creativity.” 

This is precisely the environment in which Israeli entrepreneurs thrive. They benefit from the stable institutions and rule of law that exist in an advanced democracy. 

Yet they also benefit from Israel’s nonhierarchical culture, where everyone in business belongs to overlapping networks produced by small communities, common army service, geographic proximity, and informality.” 

PART III Beginnings

Chapter 6: An Industrial Policy That Worked

“But the community decided to stick it out since it became clear that the problems of soil salinity affected not only Hatzerim but also most of the lands in the Negev. 

Two years later, the Hatzerim kibbutzniks managed to flush the soil enough so that they were able to start growing crops. Yet this was just the beginning of Hatzerim’s breakthroughs for itself and the country. 

In 1965 a water engineer named Simcha Blass approached Hatzerim with an idea for an invention that he wanted to commercialize: drip irrigation. This was the beginning of what ultimately became Netafim, the global drip irrigation company.” 

“Kibbutz Mashabbe Sade, in the Negev Desert, went even further: the kibbutzniks found a way to use water deemed useless not once, but twice. They dug a well as deep as ten football fields are long —almost half a mile—only to discover water that was warm and salty. 

This did not seem like a great find until they consulted Professor Samuel Appelbaum of nearby Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He realized that the water would be perfect for raising warm-water fish. 

“It was not simple to convince people that growing fish in the desert makes sense,” said Appelbaum, a fish biologist. “But it’s important to debunk the idea that arid land is infertile, useless land.”

“In December 2008, Ben-Gurion University hosted a United Nations-sponsored conference on combating desertification, the world’s largest ever. Experts from forty countries came, interested to see with their own eyes why Israel is the only country whose desert is receding.”

Chapter 7: Immigration

“Today Molla is an elected member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset; he is only the second Ethiopian to be elected to this office. “While it was just a four-hour flight, it felt like there was a gap of four hundred years between Ethiopia and Israel,” Molla told us.” 

“Another flight from Ethiopia set a world record: 1,122 passengers on a single El Al 747. Planners had expected to fill the aircraft with 760 passengers, but because the passengers were so thin, hundreds more were squeezed in. 

Two babies were born during the flight. Many of the passengers arrived barefoot and with no belongings. By the end of the decade, Israel had absorbed some forty thousand Ethiopian immigrants.”

“Sergey Brin spoke. “Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys,” he said in Russian, his choice of language prompting spontaneous applause. “I emigrated from Russia when I was six,” Brin continued. “I went to the United States. 

Similar to you, I have standard Russian-Jewish parents. My dad is a math professor. They have a certain attitude about studies. And I think I can relate that here, because I was told that your school recently got seven out of the top ten places in a math competition throughout all Israel.”

“Israel is now home to more than seventy different nationalities and cultures. But the students Sergey Brin was addressing were from the single largest immigration wave in Israel’s history. 

Between 1990 and 2000, eight hundred thousand citizens of the former Soviet Union immigrated to Israel; the first half million poured in over the course of just a three-year period. 

All together, it amounted to adding about a fifth of Israel’s population by the end of the 1990s. The U.S. equivalent would be a flood of sixty-two million immigrants and refugees coming to America over the next decade.”


”we received with our mothers’ milk the knowledge thatbecause you are a Jew—which had no positive meaning to us then, only that we were victims of anti-Semitism—you had to be exceptional in your profession, whether it was chess, music, mathematics, medicine, or ballet. . . . 

That was the only way to build some kind of protection for yourself, because you would always be starting from behind.”

“The result was that though Jews made up only about 2 percent of the Soviet population, they counted for “some thirty percent of the doctors, twenty percent of the engineers, and so on,” Sharansky told us.”

Chapter 8: The Diaspora

“along with those in India and China. “But,” he notes, “whereas in China and in India there is quite a bit of engineering work done, when it comes to pure innovation and acquisition activity, Israel is still holding the front line.”

Chapter 9: The Buffett Test

“During the 2006 Lebanon war, just two months after Buffett acquired Iscar, 4,228 missiles landed in Israel’s north. Located less than eight miles from the Lebanese border, Iscar was a prime target for rocket fire. 

Eitan Wertheimer, chairman of Iscar, who’d made the sale to Buffett, told us that he called his new boss on the first day of the war. 

“Our sole concern was for the welfare of our people, since wrecked machines and shattered windows can always be replaced,” Wertheimer recalled of his conversation with Buffett.

” ‘But I am not sure that you understand our mind-set,’ I told him.‘We’re going to carry on with half the workforce, but we will ensure that all the customers get their orders on time or even earlier.”

“half of the shift; 75 percent showed up.”

“Following a second Iraqi missile attack the next night, turnout at Intel’s Haifa design center increased to 80 percent. The more brazen the attacks, the larger the turnout. Welcome to Israel’s “new normal.”

“As Eitan Wertheimer told Warren Buffett at the start of the 2006 Lebanon war, “We’re going to determine which side has won this war by ramping up factory production to an all-time high, while the missiles are falling on us.”

Chapter 10: Yozma

“To date, BIRD has invested over $250 million in 780 projects, which has resulted in $8 billion in direct and indirect sales.” 

“The big idea is not to attract only U.S. capital and commercial know-how, but to suck in entrepreneurs from all over Europe. At the moment, Europe has huge reservoirs of scientific talent, but a very poor record at creating startups. 

The question many investors ask is: where is the European Google? It’s a fair question. In the next ten years, what if that European Google was set up here using Irish and European brains and U.S. capital? That is the prize.”

PART IV Country with a Motive

Chapter 11: Betrayal and Opportunity

“THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK, we’ve pointed to the ways the IDF’s improvisational and anti hierarchical culture follows Israelis into their start-ups and has shaped Israel’s economy. 

This culture, when combined with the technological wizardry Israelis acquire in elite military units and from the state run defense industry, forms a potent mixture. But there was nothing normal about the birth of Israel’s defense industry.”

Chapter 12: From Nose Cones to Geysers

“The multitasking mentality produces an environment in which job titles—and the compartmentalization that goes along with them—don’t mean much. 

This is something that Doug Wood noticed in making the transition from Hollywood to Jerusalem: “This is great because conventional Hollywood studios say you need a ‘projection major’ and you need a ‘production coordinator ‘ or you need a ‘layout head.’ 

But in Israel the titles are kind of arbitrary, really, because they are interchangeable in some ways and people do work on more than one thing.” 

Chapter 13: The Sheikh’s Dilemma

“The other qualitative elements—such as tight-knit communities whose members are committed to living and working and raising families in the cluster—are what contribute to sustainable growth. 

Crucially, a cluster’s sense of shared commitment and destiny, which transcends day-to-day business rivalries, is not easy to manufacture.” 

“In the best-selling book Built to Last, business guru James Collins identifies several enduring business successes that all have one thing in common: a core purpose articulated in one or two sentences. 

“Core purpose,” Collins writes, “is the organization’s fundamental reason for being. [It] reflects the importance people attach to the company’s work . . . beyond just making money.”

“Silicon Valley famously got its start in 1939 when William Hewlett and David Packard, two Stanford University engineering graduates, pooled their funds of $538 and founded HewlettPackard. Their mentor was a former Stanford professor, and they set up shop in a garage in nearby Palo Alto.”

Dan Senor Quote 2

“But the Arab world’s cultural and social institutions, as was reported by a U.N.-sanctioned committee of Arab intellectuals, are chronically underdeveloped. 

The United Nations’ Arab Human Development Report, which presented the organization’s research from 2002 through 2005, found that the number of books translated annually into Arabic in all Arab countries combined was one-fifth the number translated into Greek in Greece. 

The number of patents registered between 1980 and 2000 from Saudi Arabia was 171; from Egypt, 77; from Kuwait, 52; from the United Arab Emirates, 32; from Syria, 20; and from Jordan, 15—compared with 7,652 from Israel. 

The Arab world has the highest illiteracy rates globally and one of the lowest numbers of active research scientists with frequently cited articles. 

In 2003, China published a list of the five hundred best universities in the world; it did not include a single mention of the more than two hundred universities in the Arab world.”

“Today, Israel has eight universities and twenty-seven colleges. Four of them are in the top 150 worldwide universities and seven are in the top 100 Asia Pacific universities. 

None of them are satellite campuses from abroad. Israeli research institutions were also the first in the world to commercialize academic discoveries.”

“Landes believes that nothing is more dilutive to drive and ambition than a sense of entitlement.” 

Chapter 14: Threats to the Economic Miracle

“That said, the breakdown in international finance has infected almost every nation’s banking system, with two notable exceptions: neither Canada nor Israel has faced a single bank failure.” 

“Economist Dan Ben-David pointed us to a study by two French academics that ranks nations outside the United States according to publications in top economic journals between 1971 and 2000. 

The United Kingdom—including the London School of Economics, Oxford, and Cambridge—came in at number two. 

Germany had fewer than half as many publications per faculty member as the British had. And Israel was number one. “Not five or ten percent more, but seven times more—in a league of our own,”

“As the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman put it, “I would much rather have Israel’s problems, which are mostly financial, mostly about governance, and mostly about infrastructure, rather than Singapore’s problem because Singapore’s problem is culture bound.”


Conclusion: Farmers of High Tech

“Indeed, what makes the current Israeli blend so powerful is that it is a mashup of the founders’ patriotism, drive, and constant consciousness of scarcity and adversity and the curiosity and restlessness that have deep roots in Israeli and Jewish history. 

“The greatest contribution of the Jewish people in history is dissatisfaction,” Peres explained. “That’s poor for politics but good for science.” 

In Israel, the seemingly contradictory attributes of being both driven and “flat,” both ambitious and collectivist make sense when you throw in the experience that so many Israelis go through in the military. 

There they learn that you must complete your mission, but that the only way to do that is as a team. The battle cry is “After me”: there is no leadership without personal example and without inspiring your team to charge together and with you. 

There is no leaving anyone behind. You have minimal guidance from the top and are expected to improvise, even if this means breaking some rules. If you’re a junior officer, you call your higher-ups by their first names, and if you see them doing something wrong, you say so.” 

“George Bernard Shaw wrote, “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

Book Review (Personal Opinion):

If Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning is a guide on how to change an individual’s life, the Start-up Nation is a guide on how to change the collective’s life. 

The book doesn’t just take economic effects into place— it goes deep into the reason why the startup culture emerged in Israel and the roots can be found in their culture.

I loved how this book didn’t try to stretch the reality by connecting the reason for economic growth to some innate ability, but to something that every nation can build for themselves—culture.

Rating: 7/10

This Book Is For (Recommend):

  • A young team manager who wants to learn how to become a leaders
  • An aspiring entrepreneur who is still waiting for their big break
  • A millennial who wants to learn what it takes to succeed in life

If You Want To Learn More

Since Start-Up Nation is a book from 2011, here’s Saul Singer doing a “10-year view” on the book:
The 10-Year View with Saul Singer

How I’ve Implemented The Ideas From The Book

I’ve used so many stories from this book in my writing, but that’s not the only thing. Since my purpose in life is to help rebuild my city and change it for the better, I learned that it needs to start from rebuilding the culture, not the buildings.

One Small Actionable Step You Can Do

One of the main elements of the Israeli culture is chutzpah which loosely translated means strong assertiveness towards everyone, but that’s one of the main reasons for their economic success. 

So what you can do is have a difficult, but respectful conversation at work with your peer, manager, or subordinates. That conversation and feedback will maybe not sit well at first, but it will be the fertile ground out of which new innovation and growth will spur.

Start Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer - Summary Infographic