Nadav is a serial entrepreneur and product owner, and one who I owe greatly for his kind advice. Having successfully started business, get onto major startup accelerators, and pitched to investors, Nadav was instrumental in the designing and pitching of my current business to our investors.
Nadav has a brilliant, original way of looking at the world, which I hope is apparent from the messages below.
Jamie: Nadav, what have you found the most fulfilling about your career thus far?
Nadav: Fulfillment is when you reach a goal, when you achieve it, when you are aiming high and like “Okay, let’s get accepted to an accelerator in the UK. Let’s get the traction that showed growth to gain trust for investors, and then gain investments.” When you plan and you aim high and you reach that, then that’s fulfillment for me. When you get it, when you deliver, when you check it when you tick the box and generate joy.
Jamie: Can you give me a specific example of a time that comes to mind that was especially fulfilling?
Nadav: Especially fulfilling I think was reaching UK investment for the first time. It’s like gaining a trust which is bigger than Israeli investments, as UK investors are known as being tough and filtering for only the best deals. So when you gain investment, especially from an enterprise that is as big as John Lewis, I was like “wow” – this is aiming high and getting it.
Jamie: How would you describe your current role?
Nadav: Currently, I’m Chief Everything Officer in Link Big because I’m the founder and the sales guy, the marketing guy, the development project manager. So I’m Chief Everything Officer.
Jamie: What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Nadav: I think that you’re producing and launching and testing and there isn’t anyone stopping you or holding you back, so the quickness that comes with that. If you’re like “Let’s do AB testing on a platform with investors”, and you do it the day after and you have the result the day after that! It’s the speed, the quickness that Mark Zuckerberg spoke about. This is why I think entrepreneurship is better than other lanes of employment.
Jamie: How have you generally been compensated, financially, and otherwise, compared to your peers who stayed as employees?
Nadav: You earn your money from investments so it’s your money, your sweat money and you’re not a robot in an enterprise that no one cares about you. There is the money that investors are personally investing in you.
So, you feel the salary and the compensation is more personal quality and worth the time. It’s not automatic. You’re not like a nail in someone else’s building.
Jamie: What skills do you think the people should exhibit naturally that they should want to go into a client-facing entrepreneurial role?
Nadav: I think client-facing people, salespeople or entrepreneurs, have to be more of a listener than a talker. You have to listen before speaking. You have to listen to the enterprise. You need to read their blog, read the about the DNA – the values – of the company on their website, read the newsletter and read the experience of the people that you’re going to meet using LinkedIn. Then in the meeting, you see more and read between the lines, and even ask them to get more data. Then you are designed by data; designed by what they are saying, what they are not saying, what they are saying in the follow-up email. I think the first thing, the most crucial thing in being client facing – everyone, even if you are selling pizza, it is listening more. “What do you want for your pizza, what do you prefer on the pizza?” Maybe you are hungry, so you will buy two pizzas or a garlic bread with your pizza. You need to listen and you need to ask and reform according to that.
Jamie: Picking up on that listening, do you have a goal when you go into a meeting of the essential amount of time to listen to understand that person?
I don’t think it’s a number. I don’t think it’s an amount. I think it’s the results that matter because you can come to a two-hour meeting and you can talk or not talk and there is zero result. But you can convince the person in five minutes. You don’t need to measure like a boxing match – how many rounds you boxed.
Jamie: Would you recommend that anyone goes into entrepreneurship?
Nadav: Well, not anyone because there are some scars that can leave people traumatized, a lot of rejection. People sometimes can take it personally. So sometimes it breaks people.
Jamie: What specific characteristics would you look for in someone to say “Yes, you should be an entrepreneur?”
Nadav: I think people that are good at convincing. People like influencers who can convince people to be vegetarian for a month. Convincing people is kind of like telling everyone, “You should buy this buggy because you’re a mother.” I think convincing is the actions of a salesperson. Being a salesperson is what you need to be successful when you’re an entrepreneur.
Jamie: Are there any advantages in entrepreneurship based on age, gender, physical appearance, nationality that you’re aware of?
Nadav: No, I think it’s anyone who can survive the hardest like Ben Horowitz says in his book “Hardest Thing About the Hardest Thing”. Entrepreneurship is the hardest thing. You don’t have the stability; you don’t have the salary.
You are trying to convince people about something that they never heard of because it didn’t exist. You could be a developer in India and you could be a mother in Surrey. If you survive this and you succeed in these situations, then you’re an entrepreneur.
Jamie: What skills are needed to succeed in sales specifically?
Nadav: I think you need to be representative, truthful – people trust you to be instantly trustworthy. I always give people the example of a doctor, when the doctor in the emergency room asked you how you feel, people tell the doctor everything, It’s instant trust; you need to have that. You need to gain their trust so you can have that nonverbal and you can convince them verbally with words. But this is crucial because people do not trust you, you cannot sell yourself, your product, your service; nothing.
Jamie: You mentioned the verbal and nonverbal aspects of building trust. Can you expound on that?
Nadav: Yes, for example, when let’s say the example I used about the doctor. So the doctor is like “Hi, my name is Eric. I’m here to help you. I have 12 years of experience and everything is going to be alright”. This is a case of verbal words that people feel trust. Nonverbal is eye contact, let’s say this is a place that is noisy and I’m telling them “Listen, quiet. I want to listen to you. Thank you.” I think the reading between the lines is something that is not verbal. The tone of voice, the tempo of your words, and all of that. It’s how you say the words, not the words itself. Even what you wear. If you are a doctor and you have clean clothes, I will feel more trust if you have stains, because well, he is a professional.
Jamie: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in winning business for Link Big?
Nadav: The biggest challenge is culture because I’m Israeli and it’s still a challenge coming towards a different tempo, a different culture, and a very professional business environment like London. This was my biggest challenge. Communication, like my English, how I present myself, the offer, the build, the benefits. To craft and re-craft and A/B testing, that communication was the biggest challenge for me personally.
Jamie: How have you dealt with organizational complexity when pitching?
It’s a good question because what you craft as complexity, I craft as something else. If you have fifty executive meetings, you need to reach a deal, this is what you need to do. You don’t see this as a complexity, you see this as a reality.
You need to re-craft your materials. You need to re-craft your messaging. I don’t see this as a complexity because probably you see this as a problem. And I see this as a challenge and sometimes you can do A/B testing. You’re like “Okay, let’s see if this works, let’s do another meeting”. Let’s say when we were applying for a job and you have a CV. The cover letter is kind of like a personalized CV. You make the CV more relevant to the organization. So you can call it complex, but why? I see it as another way to sharpen the pencil; making the messaging sharper.
Jamie: So your reaction to a large and complex organization is to be open to having a lot of meetings to get that deal?
Nadav: Sometimes you can be creative and tell them “Listen, instead of 8 meetings, can you all get inside one room and I will web conference you?” You can be creative as long as it saves the other side time and money. You want them to say “We want that. It saves us time and money.” It’s like you work for them even before you work for them. It’s how you manage the complexities of your own goal because you need to show them that you’re dynamic, you save them money and you’re more efficient. You can take this complex issue and say “It’s a problem,” or look at it as an opportunity.
Jamie: Would you recommend that any salesperson look to be entrepreneurial?
Nadav: No, because an entrepreneur needs to be a salesperson and a marketer and a developer and a project manager. And sales need to focus on sales so it’s different because I think a really good salesperson dives deep into his craftsmanship. Entrepreneurs need to be doing so many things at the same time. It’s less focused and more like football, where you’re the goalkeeper. You’re controlling 1-2-3-5 in every game there. It’s like your two hands can hold five different layers. I think entrepreneurship is like that. In sales, they’re focused on the sales and getting the sales. They’re focused on the reading between the lines and reaching out with LinkedIn. I think it’s not the same. When you ask me “Can any salesperson can be entrepreneurial?” No, because it’s less focused.
Jamie: So you’d only recommend that salespeople who can handle that diversity of activity?
Nadav: I will quote the guy that was the CEO of SurveyMonkey. the late David Goldenberg, the late husband of Sheryl Sandberg. He said:
“Every entrepreneur needs to be a salesperson. Not every salesperson needs to be an entrepreneur”, and I think that’s a great quote.
Jamie: How would you say that other entrepreneurs are earning generally?
Nadav: I think an entrepreneur earns more than a salary, just like salespeople don’t just earn just salary. If I’m a salesperson, let’s say for a moment you network when you meet people. You LinkedIn with them. It’s basically that you are networking yourself, while you sell. Just like entrepreneurs, you gain experience doing marketing and sales and developments while you are developing your start-ups. You’ve not just earned a salary, you also improved. It’s called exercise. It’s like going to the gym. You shape your commercial muscles in sales, entrepreneurship, and everything else. It’s like when you go to the university and you’re like “Yes, I came out with a degree”, but also a network with your fellow students. You’ll learn how you learn and have deadlines and how you juggle with life and start things. Just like a university degree, you come out with a salary but you come out with so much more. So yes, in sales, you come out with learning how to read between the lines in a meeting. Entrepreneurship involves IT too, I just learned what API is and how to re-craft a cloud platform.
Jamie: You believe that entrepreneurs are compensated in various ways, including the experience they’ve gained?
Nadav: I think sales is also an experience. But they experience different things. For example, if you go to a salesperson and they tell you “We don’t know if to pilot with you, to be a client of yours and work with you.” If you’re in sales, you’re like “Let’s grow and amplify that”. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re like “I need the full deal. A pilot is not enough. I need to move forward. We’re going move forward.”
Jamie: What do you like about that book we’ve discussed previously, “The Challenger Sale?”
Nadav: I think that it shows you there is a new era that today, people don’t buy from a sales guy because of the product or the benefit of the product. More than 50 percent of a sale according to his book’s research is because of the expertise and the craftsmanship that a salesperson shows.
When a salesperson comes with a product or a service, they need to be the smartest person in the room, so they will listen to what you’re offering and maybe use it. The focus is about the person, and not the product or the service that he or she has pitched.
Jamie: What advice would you give to aspiring salespeople?
Nadav: Aspiring salespeople need to understand what they are aspiring to. Are you aspiring to be 100 percent great in sales, focus on sales, read between the lines, go toward the advanced sales called enterprise sales? And even now there are sales to developers which are really high-tech. Or, are you aspiring to do more than sales? You want to be an entrepreneur. You want to do marketing and project managing and all of that. What are you aspiring to? Do you aspire for a better salary or a better reputation? A better understanding of your craft, or the world? What are you aspiring to, because a lot of people are aspiring to different things?
Jamie: And what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Nadav: I think first of all when entrepreneurs aspire, they’re in error because they’re like “Let’s make a pitch there”. Their road map is the easy part – it’s just drawing. But then when you are developing, there is a problem and the API has stopped working, then we all need encouragement. For those aspiring entrepreneurs that find going hard, you don’t just need words. You need encouragement. “You can do it. This is why it’s hard. This is why all of this effort is hard. It’s hard, so just do it. Test yourself. You will manage, you will do it. Aim high, and all that. You need to support those aspiring entrepreneurs.
Jamie: Where should aspiring entrepreneurs look for that support?
Nadav: It’s a good question. I think family and friends because they know you. They know how to support you in your deepest nerves. They know how to convince you that you can do it because people that don’t know you and tell you, “You can do it,” you don’t trust them. Again, we are coming back to trust issues. I think family and friends, and even social media, share your difficulties. Share your challenges because you won’t believe how much people will want to help you. Share with transparency. This is my advice to entrepreneurs because if you are like “I don’t need support, I can do it like our own”. Okay, that’s great, we’d all like that. But those that need it, look under your nose. The support you need is already right in front of you.
Jamie: If you were starting your entrepreneurial journey again, what would you do differently?
Nadav: That’s a great question. I wouldn’t do this alone. I think we just talk about support, doing this with people you trust that support you and be part of a team. A lot of entrepreneurs maybe too proud. You won’t believe how hard it is. Imagine, I’m saying you need to be five people. So yes, even if you’re two, it’s going to be hard. You need to be five.
Jamie: How do you go about selecting your business partners?
Nadav: Trust, expertise, aiming high, and having a no-bullshit attitude. And I don’t know how you say this in English. In Hebrew, it’s called “bigger your head.” It’s when you’re on a task and you’re doing more than that. I don’t know the expression. In Hebrew, it’s like sometimes you have small heads when you only have a single task, and sometimes you go “beyond the head” when you look beyond the task. Maybe it’s initiative if that is the word. It’s close to the initiative.
When someone makes more effort than needed, this is a signal that there is a muscle there that is good for entrepreneurship.
Jamie: Can you give me a specific example of when someone has over-performed and you have felt that they should be an entrepreneur?
Nadav: I worked with a Ukrainian team. The project manager told me “Yes, the developer worked on it the whole weekend”. That was a signal that it was important for him. I was very thankful for that because it shows that he is really into it and it’s the best thing you can ever have if one of your employees does that for you because it’s like “I’m here for the challenge. I’m here for the task. I love the task so much. I like to do this in my own free time.” It signals that people don’t see the “job” as a dirty one. They see the job as a challenge, that life challenge; they are the best ones to work with.
Jamie: Please can you tell me about a time when you have failed and learned something?
Nadav: I think the funniest was like I pitched the MD of Joe Lewis using one of our retailers in Israel that used our product. The product was similar to Instagram and because it’s in Israel because it’s hot, it was a swimwear and bikini wear picture. And showing the customer experience on Instagram for the man on the street from an MD from John Lewis and then seeing his face and the other people’s faces when I showed the bikini picture in a business meeting, I understood that there was something wrong. So I was like “Sorry, it’s these retailers. I wanted to show you the technology…”. So sometimes you need to learn a different culture.
Jamie: Can you tell me a positive story that shows off the skills you’ve developed?
Nadav: I think there is one story that I like to share – I came early to a meeting. I came 15 minutes early and they were like “Did something happen?” And I said, “No, I was thinking because the stereotype of Israelis is that we are always late, so I came early.” And they really liked that. “We spoke about trust in that second, and that built trust because “this guy came early because he places importance on our time. He acknowledged our time.” It’s another nonverbal way to gain trust and yes, I got the deal.
Jamie: What books would you recommend an aspiring salesperson would need?
Nadav: The Challenger Sale is the best for sales strategy and tactics. This book also has great tips. And for entrepreneurship, it is Ben Horowitz’s “The Hardest Thing About The Hardest Thing.” It’s an entrepreneurship bible because it tells it like it is. It’s hard and he says every CEO says, “I sleep like a baby – I wake up every 2 hours and cry.” So, it’s very true, honest, funny. A practical confession of how to be an entrepreneur. I really recommend both.