1. What is a daily habit you love doing?
Every day on the way home from work, I call my mom. Years ago, I learned that if you have this call every day, it ends up going far beyond the standard “How’s your day been?” routine. She was the equivalent of a CEO in the Israeli Knesset and she has seen it all. (Gad’s mom is Vilma Maor, Director of labor, welfare, and health committee) She’s exactly the person you want on the other side of the phone, listening to what’s on your mind and helping you stick to your convictions. Sometimes those calls are about nothing and these are the ones I cherish the most, a familiar, comforting voice marking my daily routine and grounding me. Also in rare, cherished cases when my dad answers the phone first, I get to steal a few priceless minutes of his time before he hands the phone to my mother, claiming some or other business he needs to get back to. He’s retired though.
2. What piece of advice would you give yourself when you started? What advice would you ignore?
Avoid working with friends and family, that is advice I definitely would (and do) ignore. Since I was a kid, I built stuff with my friends. And when they weren’t around, I would sneak up on my older brother and his friends as they were tearing apart computers in his room. Fast forward 15 years, and together we gathered up our friends to build our first company together, Shaker (post-acquisition, it now goes by Playstudios and is one of the leading game companies in the world). Over the years and through all the different companies we started together, we encouraged the good side of nepotism – embracing your talented friends and family and getting to work with your favorite people every day.
If I could I would go back in time, I would advise myself to hire faster and earlier for positions where we lack expertise. It’s true that the best way to learn is from experience but if you can ‘buy’ that experience earlier on, even if it’s costly, it can dramatically expedite your business growth. We were coming to business from a background of product engineering and it took us a long time to become the B2B enterprise experts we are today.
3. What piece of content (book/podcast/Ted Talk) is your favorite or has influenced your life?
I wouldn’t say favorite but The Lean Startup by Eric Ries definitely had a big impact on me and how we ran the company. It was back in 2011 when I first read it, just after we completed a $17M funding round for Shaker. The book is all about how to validate product MVP and take a step by step approach towards product-market fit. We adopted this philosophy a bit too eagerly.
We were running an experiment after experiment to validate different product directions. After a while, we were left with many reports about why things didn’t work and not much space for any product leadership based on vision or belief. For a while, it created an unhealthy company culture.
In retrospect, it’s easy to spot the downsides of an extremely lean approach and the opportunities and types of leaps one could make if you let your intuition guide you. There is still a lot of value in lean development but there’s even greater value in delivering a product that is polished enough to create new habits for people. And that takes time and a strong belief in your mission.
4. What is the most valuable investment (time, money or energy etc.) that you’ve ever made?
If I have to answer honestly then it’s going to sound cheesy, but it is the truth. My most worthwhile investment was my enrollment fee to IDC Herzliya, the college I went to. Not because of the courses I took but the friendships I made. On my first day there, I stumbled upon a unique character called Adam Rakib, who I’m now professionally married to, and have been fortunate to build companies with, together with our third co-founder, Eldad Abel.
5. Is there a quote, mantra or message you live your life by and that you resonate with? It can be someone else’s as well.
We always strive to be MOFET, excellence at its finest. It’s a Hebrew word that means ‘exemplariness’. It’s when you represent the best of your kind. It’s excellence, prestige, confidence, and the desire to do great things in the world all thrown together in one word. Mofet is our gold standard. Our personal own benchmark for success. At the same time, it’s important to live every moment of your life to its fullest. Just because life is short, it should never be treated as a race. We’re here on earth for only a split second and we should enjoy it while we can.
6. What helps you stay motivated on good and hard days?
I’m never alone. If there’s one thing that I can say about my career thus far is that it’s been anything but lonely. I’m blessed to work with smart, no-bullshit, and sometimes crazy people and this makes any hard day feel like nothing more than a page in a chapter. My career was and still is, full of ups and downs. There isn’t a single day that looks like the previous one and nothing goes as planned, for the good and the bad. I believe that if you’re fully dedicated to the mission (and it’s a mission worth fighting for), the bad days are just part of the formula, nothing more. You’ve got to have them so you can appreciate the good ones.
7. What are you passionate about other than managing your own company?
Oratory and the art of speech. As a son of a journalist, I was taught to pay special attention to the power of words and a good story. Two people can say the same thing, one will get millions to gather behind them and the other will end up speaking to themselves in a mirror. At any given moment, I try to follow a specific leader and study their speeches.
In today’s crazy political climate, I find myself closely following the upcoming US election and reverse-engineering the nominees’ speeches. Now during the pandemic, I am fascinated by Donald Trump’s national daily Corona Task Force press briefings. Putting aside the actual content of his words, he has an incredible ability to drive the people towards action and create his own narrative. He is always making sure that his side of the story is being told and making the most out of the media attention. In time, I began identifying the strategy behind his narrative. No matter your personal opinion, there’s always something to learn from every leader out there. Today, our company is focused on productizing the art of storytelling. We believe that better Data Storytelling will disrupt how consumers and businesses engage with data and the insights we can glean from it. We empower people with the tools, skills, and confidence they need to understand the world at their fingertips.
8. What have you recently thrown away or released from your life that made a positive impact and why?
It started when I deleted my Facebook, Instagram, and then local news apps from my phone. It’s not that I was addicted to any of those apps by today’s standards but I realized how bad I felt every time I used them. I saw how I was drawn to pay attention to events I didn’t truly care about. My focus was being externally pulled towards things. In time, I understood that it was more than that and I turned off all app notifications on my phone.
I don’t miss anything important at work (I still manually open the email app multiple times a day) but it allows me to control when I get distracted and when I can be completely focused on the task at hand. In my role, that’s the only way to get things done. I always keep my phone on silent and I rarely answer phone calls. I’m sure this might sound like I’m someone you don’t want to be friends with but trust me, I’m okay. It’s just about calming and quieting all the noise that life today is filled with.
9. Share a failure you have experienced and what you learned from it.
I’ve made many, many mistakes in my life and always found a way to focus on what I learned from it so there’s never a regret I can’t move on from. In our early days as founders at Shaker, we gave too much attention to our competition. This was for good rational reasons: we were a small team chasing a big vision in a world full of resourceful companies. Yet in the end, this led us to make decisions based on fear and not out of courage. It’s important to know your market and understand your competitors’ strategy but at the same time, it’s all about being the best version of yourself and focusing on your own execution.
10. If you could have anyone in the world answer these questions who would it be and why?
As strange as it sounds, I would probably want to ask myself or one of my co-founders these questions ten years from now. Not because I care too deeply about the specific answers but in order to avoid the wrong turns and inevitable pitfalls ahead of me so I can make the next ten years the most incredible chapters in the StoreMaven story.