That Decisive Qualitative Edge

So I am reading this book called “Israel’s Edge.”


It’s basically about their elite genius program, “Talpiot,” in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  


Each year the program accepts only the top 50 out of 100,000 graduating high school students for a 9-year commitment. 


There are the mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists that help give the IDF the cutting edge in military R&D and other innovations. 


These are the brain trust behind Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and Trophy tank active protection system and many more both military and industrial advances. 


This program was born after the almost disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur War where Israel misjudged the intelligence and the advances in their enemies capability and almost lost the war. 


I like the philosophy of General Yitzhak Ben-Israel who understands the importance of challenging the status quo and looking differently at critical situations and avoiding confirmation bias:

My method is not to look for supporting evidence. I look for refuting evidence…you see one white swan, then a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. You still can’t conclude that all swans are white…nature builds us to be inductive, to make generalizations from past experience…this standard way of scientific thinking can be limiting and destructive.”

Instead we must be continuously curious, think outside the box, be creative, and innovate. 


Especially, where we don’t have a quantitative advantage like with Israel surrounded by many enemies, then we must rely on a very sharp qualitative edge. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

The Magical Letters Of Tishrei

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Magical Letters of Tishrei.”

It is ingenious how the letters of the Aleph and Bet and Tishrei (the dates when Rosh Hashanah occurs) is exactly equivalent to the letters in the Hebrew word for Genesis (Bereshit), which is the event of creation that we celebrate on the Jewish New Year. 

Truly, this magical genius evident in the Torah can only be from one source and that is the one Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, Himself!

Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a truly magical Rosh Hashanah and one that is filled G-d’s mercy and blessings for a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful New Year!

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Born With The Music

Saw an incredible segment on 60 Minutes on Sunday about this amazing girl named Alma


Alma Deutscher is a British-born (of Israeli-descent) musical whiz kid who was playing piano and violin at age 3. 


And she composed a whole opera by the time she was 10. 


They call her the Second Mozart, although she prefers to just be the First Alma!


She literally hears music playing in her head all the time, and she says that there are different expert musical composers in her head that she calls on to solve whatever musical challenge she is facing or sound out the emotion she is trying to get to. 


In her interview, she did not seem like a 12-year old, but rather an old soul who has come back perhaps many, many times. 


Listening and watching Alma is sort of like watching a walking miracle–as there is no way she learned these skills at such a young age and has “comprehensive mastery” over all the music and instruments. 


If there was ever a question about where knowledge, skills, and abilities come from, with a child prodigy like Alma, there should be no lingering doubts about G-d’s complete role in everything.  


With Alma, G-d graciously let’s us in to the mysteries of creation by showing us the source of all is Him. 


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Cave Tree

I just think this is such an amazing tree (at work). 

It’s like a cave. 

You go in through the overhanging branches.

And there is a whole seating area with tables, chairs, benches underneath the shade of this lovely tree. 

It’s like the tree was created for giving shade to people. 

What miraculous creations G-d has made for us. 

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Pet Rock 2018

So when I saw this colored rock last evening, it made me think two things:


One, cool idea, looks nice and fun to make.


Two, it reminded me of the Pet Rocks in the 1970s that made millions (this one was hippie even though those back then weren’t actually even colored).


A business guy came up with the idea to sell smooth rocks from Mexico beach and market them as pets.


Yeah, they are so lovable and easy to care for!


It was one of the great branding and marketing events of the 20th century.


Who would think people would actually spend money on a plain dumb rock that you could basically pick up off the street?


But incredibly, putting the rock in a box with holes (so the rock could breath) and sitting it on a little stack of hay with an joke of instruction book for caring for your rock, SOLD. 


And in fact, over 1,500,000 rocks were sold at a pop of $4 each.


The guy became a millionaire and got rid of a truckload of worthless rocks.


Yes, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure!”


But surely this was getting a little ridiculous.


Hey, I’ll give you a nickle for the shinny painted rock in the photo here. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazon’s Dangerous Genius

I am marveling at the Genius of Amazon and Jeff Bezos but also concerned about their future direction. 


Traditionally, they have invested for the long-haul!


For years, Amazon never made a dime, actually operating at a loss.


But all the time making long-term investments in infrastructure (warehouses, supply chain, logistics, etc.) and in customer acquisition. 


Their great selection, reasonable pricing, free shipping, and easy return policy lured hundreds of millions of people to drop the brick-and-mortar stores and even other online retailers to go Amazon all the way. 


Most people I know get virtually everything and anything on Amazon these days. 


Of course, the fear always was that Amazon would become such a dominant player and monopoly that no one else could compete. 


For a long time, they didn’t even charge sales tax!


It seems people can’t even imagine not having Amazon–where in the world would they shop and get all their stuff in 2-days or less (Prime Customers) and still be able to return all the crap they don’t even want. 


So here is the rub.


Now that Amazon is so dominant, guess what?  They are raising the Prime Rates and cutting back on returns–with customers actually being banned for returning too much. 


Ah, the lure, bait and switch. 


Amazon got us all as their slave customers–and we let them and love them for it. 


And after they snared us with all the convenience and security of being able to return stuff, they pull the rug and what can you do, but cry foul?


I love Amazon for their genius and what they have done for eCommerce, but I don’t like that they’ve built in a sense a dark empire to prey on their loyal customer base. 


Mr. Bezos, here is my message to you…


Please stay true to your ideals of customer-centricity and long-term investment in the company that has been the foundation for what you have built into such a retail juggernaut.  


Keep valuing your customers and serving them well and not trading them in for short-term profit gain.


In the end, that is a winning strategy that won’t land you in either regulatory hell and/or antitrust action to then force you to bend your knee or your ultimate breakup. 


Remember, you have one chance to make the right decision for Amazon or I fear that it’s not product returns that you’ll be for long worrying about. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Understanding Genius

So working in a place with scientific geniuses and even a history of Nobel Prize winners is serious business. 


I see things that I don’t know what they are. 


I meet people that I don’t understand what they do. 


But in all cases, I am in awe of the smart and good people and the work they are doing to advance us. 


Here was an example this week in randomly meeting someone and starting up a conversation:

Andy:  Hi. I’m Andy.  What do you do here?
Him:  I’m [so and so].  I do neutron scattering.
Andy: [Gulp followed by big smile] I know absolutely nothing about that.
Him:  Well, what do you do?
Andy:  I’m doing process engineering and enterprise service management.
Him: [Smile] I know absolutely nothing about that. 

Get the picture.


One for the books right.


In another instance, when asked what their group does, someone leans into me and goes:


“We fix sh*t.”


I could tell he meant it. 


And you know what–I absolutely believed him.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)