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Start-Up Nation

From the Wild West to the Industrial Revolution.

In the '70s I lived on a kibbutz. It wasn’t Zionism that brought me to Israel, but a desire to avoid returning home after flunking out of college. I had graduated high school a year early and was not prepared (or the least bit interested) in going to classes with 40,000 other students.  

Half a century later, I’m still telling stories about the night the chicken coop went up in flames, how a handsome young Russian emigre bedazzled the workers in our door knob factory, how much fun it was picking grapefruits so fast that a special truck would come early to bring us back home, how a Canadian and a Czech swooped in with fancy clothes and an entourage. Turned out later they were wanted by Interpol for smuggling drugs in cheeses and embezzling jewelry. They had run out of money in Eilat playing poker with Meyer Lansky and ended up pruning roses and trekking up hills to shower with the rest of our multi-national motley crew. We counted the planes flying overhead in the morning and again in the evening to make sure they all came back safely. I got kicked off my first kibbutz near the Lebanese border for having too much sex with my British boyfriend. I discovered falafel and persimmons.

Kibbutz Alonim, 1972
I'm the American girlfriend.

So, when I read Start-Up Nation it was a revelation. Not only was it immensely inspiring that so many tech inventions, medical achievements and innovations were born of necessity and national survival. But, more that they all took place 20 years after I’d been there. From the Wild West to the Industrial Revolution in two decades.

For anyone interested in how culture shapes entrepreneurship, how a country’s challenges affect the chains of supply and distribution, how mandatory military service matures young people, Start Up Nation is a must-read.