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Innovation Blog

Entrepreneurship the Hard Way:  In the Eye of the Storm

By Shlomo Maital

  

 Dov Frohman had an illustrious career with Intel U.S., then decided he wanted to return to his homeland, Israel. Intel agreed to have him set up a development team in Haifa in the early 1970s;  one of the early products, developed by perhaps two engineers, was a math co-processor.  Later the team pioneered the Pentium, and then, the Centrino chipset.  Dov built the innovative culture of Intel’s R&D group in Haifa. 

   In his book Leadership the Hard Way, Frohman makes a key point, which he stressed in a recent interview:

“I think any genuine leader today has to learn leadership the hard way—by doing it. That means embracing turbulence and crisis, not avoiding it. It means “flying through the thunderstorm.” That’s not to say that there are no basic principles to orient you to the challenge. Indeed, I describe some in the book. But there are no simple recipes. Until you have lived it, you don’t really know how to do it. That’s what I mean by “leadership the hard way.”

   I believe the same principle applies to entrepreneurship and innovation. Until you launch a business, and fly directly into the eye of the storm, and then emerge on the other side, you will never really learn this skill.  The longer you delay flying into the storm, the less likely it is you will ever do it.  

   Frohman relates how the idea for the book came to him:

  I’m an active pilot, and one time I actually found myself caught in a thunderstorm. It was too late to turn back; I just had to fly through it. What was so interesting to me, afterwards, was that despite all my years of training and flying, none of it really prepared me for the experience of being in the middle of the storm. All the things that I had ever learned about flying were far from my mind. There were too many things going on at once, too many contingencies that I couldn’t predict or anticipate. Instead, I was consumed by the crisis, operating on instinct, reacting rapidly to the developments of the moment. I think leadership is like that: it can’t be done by the book. Rather, it means having the capacity to respond appropriately in an instant.

   Substitute “entrepreneurship” for “leadership” in the next-to-last line, and the passage works just as well.  

     I teach entrepreneurship and try  to provide useful tools for my students. But I agree with Dov Frohman – Just do it.  That’s always my final message to my students.

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Innovation Blog

Lucien Freud Dies at Age 88: What He Taught Us

By Shlomo Maital

  “Benefits Supervisor  Sleeping” 

Sigmund Freud’s grandson, Lucien Freud, a portrait artist, has died at age 88.  I think innovators can learn a lot from his life and work.

   “Don’t try to surprise!  Don’t try to shock!”  he once said.  “That only works once.”  Today a great deal of art, and for that matter, innovation, seeks desperately to surprise and to shock.  For example, Robert Rauschenberg, an artist once painted a canvas pure white.  He was lauded. The painting sold for $2.8 million.  (A deranged woman even defaced it once!).  But, what next? How many all-white canvases can you do?   Freud worked patiently at his portrait skills, gradually evolving a style that was realistic, but also had elements of surrealism and expressionism.  He found his own style, rather than copy that of others.

   Lucien Freud listened to his own inner voice. In an age when nearly all painters paint in abstract style, he was figurative.   He painted real people, recognizably.  But unlike many classic portrait painters, he never glorified his subjects or air-brushed away the pimples and warts.  The opposite – he revealed the person, as he or she truly was.  He once said, “I want the paint to work as flesh.  The paint IS the person!”  

    In 2008, his nude portrait of a heavy-set civil servant reclining on a sofa, “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” sold for $33.6 million at a Christie’s auction, a record figure at the time.

  Born in Berlin in 1922, Freud was one of three sons of Austrian architect Ernst Freud and his German wife, Lucie. The family fled Nazi Germany in 1933 and eventually settled in London.  During World War II, the budding artist served with the British merchant navy.

       Look closely at his portrait of the “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping”.  What do you see?  What do you feel?  Do you find innovation in it?  Do you hate it?  Love it?  Or both?   

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
July 2011
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