Today we bury the great international statesman and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres. I had the pleasure of meeting Shimon only last year at the Ambrosetti Forum at Lake Como in Italy where we shared the stage to address the attendees. Of course, my presentation on mobile engagement carried little gravitas. Shimon, on the other hand, spoke of peace and life and values that surprised me with wit and currency. Shimon understood the impact of technology on our lives in a way that I and, I am sure many others, never even considered. There is no doubt that Shimon Peres was a visionary entrepreneur in the field of politics.
Me and the great man last year in Italy
"For me, dreaming is simply being pragmatic.
-- Shimon Peres
Brexit dominated the coffee break discussions but Shimon didn’t see the prospect (as it was then) of Brexit as such a big issue. He re-iterated his robust view at this year’s Ambrosetti Forum urging everyone to look on the bright side and reminded us all that "until 70 years ago there were wars in Europe. The First and the Second. The cost of these wars was terrible. Millions and millions of people. Europe stopped fighting 70 years ago. Why are you complaining? Even the poorest person has electricity, has flowing water, has better food.”
"Brexit is just the beginning for progress in Europe -- Shimon Peres
95% high tech and 5% water
Shimon has consistently praised the resourcefulness of the population in his country, illustrating how when faced with a land devoid of natural resources was able to create product and services that are in high demand around the world. The shift in Israel to a leading high technology exporter has to be admired, Shimon describing it as “artificial agriculture“.
"This artificial agriculture provided us with yields 15 times higher than in any other country. We became rich because we had nothing. -- Shimon Peres
Shimon believed, and I share this view wholeheartedly, that education is failing our students. In Israel, students are encouraged to become entrepreneurs. As they study, many are also setting up their first enterprises. He believed that other countries around the world were doing students a disservice through the curriculum by providing only the information and skills required for them to graduate.
Let them build and when they graduate, they will have an enterprise of their own. -- Shimon Peres
Lasting thought on life, business and judgement
I will always have a huge amount of admiration and respect for Shimon Peres and the world will miss his insight and vision. So much of what he achieved in life will be told by commentators and reporters around the world in more depth and with broader coverage than I do here but it would be remiss of me to fail to comment on the great man in the context of business given that I see him as one of the truly exceptional and unique ‘Entrepreneurial Politicians‘ of our generation. So I will end this post with his most insightful and visionary quotes that is true in business as it is with anything in life:
The world, in my judgement, is divided into givers and takers. If you give you make friends. And if you take you are creating enemies. Nothing is more costly than having enemies. -- Shimon Peres