They Made It !

They Made It! by Angelika Blendstrup is another book made of interviews of Silicon Valley actors. I had talked in the past about In the company of Giants, Once You’re Lucky, Betting it All, Founders at Work, but this one as a different angle.

The focus is about immigrants as the subtitle indicates: “How Chinese, French, German, Indian, Iranian, Israeli and other foreign born entrepreneurs contributed to high tech innovation in the Silicon Valley, the US and Overseas.” And the lessons are quite interesting.

The author summarizes on page 260 some characteristics of the people interviewed:
– High intelligence, often coupled with a great educational background
– A willingness to work hard, focus, determination and perseverance
– A vision for success in their professional careers and personal lives
– Curiosity and passion
– Love of family and a dedication to supporting it
– An often uncanny insight into themselves and others
– Belief in themselves
– Openness to emotional and intellectual growth
– A tolerance for, even a love of, risk and the ability to (quickly) recover from failure
– An appetite to collaborate
– Humility
– A desire to give back to society

I was particularly stricken by stories of people who moved and left everything behind. There is an element in entrepreneurship that someone told me this morning about: entrepreneurs know that they may lose everything (house, family) and they might not been afraid of such risks, sometimes because they have experienced it already and they know they can recover from it. This explains the passion, the dedication, and the ability to try.

Interviews after interview, you read about values, leadership, and openness to diversity, breaking barriers. I may not have learnt many new things but I liked the book very much, maybe just for the reason that it is another great illustration of what Silicon Valley values are and why immigrants have been so critical to the region.

Final detail, I did a simple analysis of origins of people interviewed:
France: 7
Israel: 5
India: 5
China: 3
Taiwan: 2
Iran: 2
Germany: 2
ROW: 5
Interesting to notice that France is highest despite it is not known for its entrepreneurship culture…

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