This post isn’t meant to poke fun at a random Israeli speaking with a few mistakes. Rather, I am picking on one Israeli to make a larger point. For most Israeli companies to succeed they have to have their eyes and strategy set on international markets from the beginning. The Israeli marketplace simply isn’t large enough to sustain many large companies. So start-ups immediately set their sights on Europe, the Far-East or America as destinations to export their technologies and as targets for their marketing.
That’s all fair and good. The problem begins with a basic Israeli weakness – the overwhelming impossibility of a typical Israeli to admit his or her flaws. You’ll seldom hear waiters or public sector workers admit they don’t know something or that they did something wrong. This universal Israeli weakness is even more acute among those that become entrepreneurs and managers. Of course, if they are ambitious, have ideas and pursue them, they will almost never admit personal shortcomings.
A very blatant example of this phenomenon is seen in almost all Israeli attempts to market their products to American audiences. The false-confidence stems not only from general over-confidence but also from most Israeli businesspeoples’ belief that they know English well. “Ehhhh, of course, I spent one year in America with Shoshana and the kids, of course I am speaking the English goodly.”
In my line of work I get to meet a lot of Israeli start-ups and entrepreneurs. Those I like will surely hear from me this tirade and my bottom line of “get a native English speaker on your team to present your company to Americans! Do not assume you’ll do a good job just because you’re the CEO and grew up watching Seinfeld.”
What prompted me to write this post is a video by Israeli CEO Uri Shinar giving an elevator pitch for his company, Aniboom, which Techcrunch posted recently. Click here to see the video (sorry that WordPress won’t let me embed it here but I promise you its worth the link to watch this horrible video).
In my opinion the video is the perfect example of the over-confident Israeli CEO telling himself “of course I should be the one doing the pitch, I am the CEO.” What he probably didn’t consider for a second is that his English will not only be a detriment to the video but may even turn people off entirely because they won’t really “get” what he’s trying to say. And before you tell me that maybe he had no one else available to do the video let me say that I know for certain several native English speakers work at the company. One of them could have made the company’s pitch in even less than 30 seconds and wouldn’t have made people cringe from some of the mistakes Uri made: “eh, we get great feedbacks from the peoples.”
Good luck Uri! I hope others learn something from this, seriously.