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.