Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Who is Jacob Harpaz? (CEO of Iscar)

Article about the CEO of Iscar:

Who on earth is Jacob Harpaz?


We went to a restaurant. I found myself sitting with Harpaz, Wertheimer, the Chinese businessman and his translator. Harpaz was focused like a laser on one thing only: making the Chinese businessman happy.

After half an hour, the ceremony began. The Chinese stood up and toasted Iscar (I think, heavens knows what he actually said), raised his glass and said, "Gan bei!" He downed the lot and signaled for more. One after another, all the Iscarites arose and repeated the ritual, toasting the businessman.

When my turn came, Wertheimer gave me a tip that saved me: "Say you're sick and mustn't drink, because once you begin, you'll be expected to continue all night. If you don't drink, they'll think you're rude." I obeyed, then signaled Harpaz. He arose, toasted in Hebrew and Chinese, drank, and signaled for the next round. The ritual lasted almost an hour. En route a lot the Iscar managers broke, except for Harpaz. He kept drinking, to keep the businessman happy.

The lessons from that night include: 1. At Iscar they'll do anything, but anything, to achieve their goals. The client (or in this case, supplier) is king. 2. If you want to be CEO of Iscar, you have to be able to drink like a fish all night, even if you got up at 6 in the morning with Warren Buffett. 3. Harpaz has an iron stomach.