I'm late to work. I'm really not but it feels like it as, slightly behind schedule, our bus speeds towards AT&T's Foundry, their R&D center in Israel. The understanding of how an industry giant has mobilized to stay relevant in the competitive U.S. telecom market cuts through the haze of a few hours of sleep and serves as a lesson and inspiration. Next we travel through disorganized masses of greenery reminiscent of Washington state to the Technion, one of Israel's most prolific educational institutions. There, we learn more lessons ; differentiate, keep trying and no idea is too weird to not try. Seeing the exotic buildings of the expansive campus and watching students play frisbee in the sun creates a sheen of familiarity as it feels like I'm really not halfway across the world.
Next We're treated to a presentation at Intel. The guarded gate, admonishments against photography and endless rows of monitor-less circuit board, microchip and heat sink configurations make one feel truly privileged to be witnessing the inside of a tech giant. A presentation on Intel's strategic adjustments and future positioning expand the day's previous lessons of generating new ideas, embracing adversity and endeavoring to adjust and think ahead. As we stand on the roof and look out over the picture perfect coastline of Haifa, complete with palm trees, rolling waves of the Mediterranean and nearby luxury condos on a hill, I can't help but feel that to immerse and fully grasp innovation is to be on top of the world.
Dusk begins to set in as we arrive at Pavo Brewery which is situated on a hill with expansive views in every direction. The evening takes on a lighter mood as people settle into seats, relax and enjoy the fruits of the brewery. Astrid (from Sweden) and I take sips of beer while discussing healthcare and insurance in our respective countries. Sharing our views on a subject spread across two vastly different systems and finding common ground with someone who lives a world away convinces me this is what it truly means to be part of innovation. This is the way of the future; seeking globally sourced solutions on domestic issues. We later learn more about the brewery and though breweries date as far back as the mid-1000's, the art of brewing is much like the start-ups for which we are consulting. Both require determination, patience, versatility and the ability to embrace change.
As we take our last sips and begin to board the bus, I ruminate on our time thus far. Expectations and pre-conceived notions have been smashed. Tel Aviv is a vibrant and dynamic city, a far cry from being another distant metropolis located in the birthplace of antiquity. Having walked the streets and met the country's premier entrepreneurs, that sense of familiarity returns. Israelis aren't too different from those Americans, who almost a century earlier, found the need to persistently innovate for survival and growth.