Listened to Rabbi Hartman last night in the final session of this semester of lectures...for full experience please see here, hopefully they will upload full semester soon.
In summary, Hartman feels that God is only relevant in our lives if we look at “God” as the motivating force in all the “little” things in our lives, as well as the big things. I.e., this is not the God of history, the God of “lightening will strike,” but rather a universal motivating force for morality and justice, translated (in one way) by the Jewish tradition as Halachah (common term for Jewish law), infusing the divine into our daily life.
You can hear more from Hartman in the original, which I urge you to do, for a tour de force of state of the art Jewish theology and its ramifications on Jewish law and life today.
So what does all of this mean for me in my daily life as a venture capitalist, as a coach and at times integral player in the conception and growth of businesses – which have lives of their own…
As I have mentioned before, and will continue to stress – in the life of a start-up (which can certainly be expanded to
We have to have some system (Halacha) for managing the company, that we have agreed to with our co-founders, investors, etc. But it is not unchangeable – for example, one of the first pieces of Halacha that we put into place for a start-up is its budget. For us, that is quite a holy document – it brings all the wonderful ideas and dreams down to everyday reality. If a CEO follows the budget, it is a basic way of knowing whether everything is going according to plan. But we cannot allow the “holiness” of a budget to make it inflexible – reality dictates changes, adaptations. If as a community we cannot react to changes in reality, and insist on sticking to an outdated mode of existence, our holy budget could lead us down the wrong path.
As board members, mentors, coaches, call us what you will, we as venture capitalists need to cognizant of changing realities, and we need to demand that our partners, the co-founders and management of start-ups, pay close attention to reality, and not only their pre-determined ideas of how “it should be.”
What are the other holy documents, the sacred texts of a start-up? There is the product plan, marketing plan, detailed product specifications, quality assurance plan, and many more. All of these have a written law and oral law aspect to them – with putting down to writing, we have now a basis for discussion, but we all know that the words and drawings do not tell the whole story – in the end the product itself (and the company) comes to life. And we must remember that no matter how holy any of these documents/plans are, they all must be flexible—there is no eternal truth.
Finally, for now (for my train ride is coming to an end), want to stress again that a life (of a person or a start-up) needs to be based on morality and ethics having priority over other goals – while we all want a profit, we do not want it at the expense of our values.