Career Notes 6.11.23
Ep 153 | 6.11.23

Nadir Izrael: Play to your strengths. [CTO]


Nadir Izrael: Hello, my name is Nadir Izrael and I'm the co-founder and CTO of Armis.

Nadir Izrael: I have always wanted to, uh, I don't know, build something and I, I recalled, uh, just a few months ago when I was, uh, talking to someone that, uh, even as a kid in school, I remember I was fascinated with this idea of cars that, can potentially not run on gas and I, uh, dragged after school a few friends to try and build something and naturally it, uh, didn't amount to anything at the time, but it did inspire me to study physics, uh, later on in life and, uh, that's still like a dream of one day we'll get to that, uh, that point as well.

Nadir Izrael: First and foremost, uh, my upbringing was probably, I mean, I don't know how unique it is, but definitely interesting. I, uh, grew up in a really kinda small town in, in Israel, not like, the best place, not the best schools or anything like that, but, uh, I grew up, uh, in a home with my sister as well as, uh, my two parents. My mom, uh, who to this day is kind of an inspiration for me. She, was for all the time I knew her in my life, almost entirely blind and, uh, generally, uh, with a lot of different, um, health issues that she needed to contend with and I think that's, combined with, um, just a general mentality at home of just pushing yourself to your limits, not ever accepting, things for what they are and just sort of, uh, trying to, exceed, any comfort zone that you have and achieve things, uh, was definitely kind of one part of that. The other part of it was, um, was definitely when I, uh, joined the military. 

Nadir Izrael: I think that, uh, in Israel, it's, it's a mandatory service, but you can definitely affect, uh, where you go. Uh, you can try out the different voluntary units and for me, I ended up joining 8,200, which is, uh, a pretty well known unit. I got to meet amazing people. I got to meet the person who would eventually be my co-founder, who is also, uh, I mean I, our relationship is, uh, hard to describe, I think in words these days. It's, uh, it's beyond marriage, it's something that's, uh, very, very close. I knew I wanted to study physics, uh, and that's what I went to do and I also started working at Google at the time, it gave me a good, interesting, um, idea of how, uh, larger tech companies look like, but I always knew that it was temporary and that I wanted to do something and when the time came, um, after a few years, uh, I ended up joining forces again with my co-founder. I think one of the lessons I learned there was play to your strengths. I think that the general background that I have has always lent itself well to cybersecurity and, uh, with the growing ecosystem and everything around that in Israel, it was a natural choice and when Yevgeny and I started working together, it was really clear that that would be the area we'd focus on and here we are today.

Nadir Izrael: I think one of the things that's important for me to foster in general as a leader, uh, are two things. One is, uh, communication, open, honest, transparent communication within an organization. Trust people to be there for the organization. Trust them to be aligned with what you need and, and really openly and honestly project what's going on, even when it's not the best things or not, uh, the most ideal outcomes or scenarios. Uh, the other thing is empathy. This ability to also, not just see the company, but also see the people in the company for what they are. I think, um, if you wanna grow a truly scalable and good organization, those two things are important. I think that, uh, the open, honest communication fosters an organization that really cares and not just, uh, it is not just there to kind of collect the paycheck and do the work, but really cares about the organization as a whole, knowing that the organization truly cares about them.

Nadir Izrael: We all go through a lot of things in life, both professional and personal and I think that, uh, having a true partner in this is important because it gets very lonely. I think there are things that you can't really, uh, share from a challenge perspective, uh, with anyone else and you're bound to have your back against the wall on multiple different occasions and knowing that someone is there to share that load is, is an important piece. I think that, uh, ultimately, adversity is uh, kind of like, uh, I don't know, going to the gym if it's not hard when you're not actually growing and not actually, you know, pushing yourself to the limits and pushing forward and I think the flip side of that is that looking at what we've done and looking at all the amazing people and in fact, the fact that nearly 700 families, uh, out there make their living, uh, have a significant impact on their lives, uh, from something like Armis is a truly humbling experience that remembering that every now and then really helps even when the going gets very tough.

Nadir Izrael: Entrepreneurship is not a shortcut to anything in life. It's grit, it's, uh, you know, ambition, it's, uh, the desire and, and really in some ways the, getting pleasure from the difficult journey that is entrepreneurship. While there are people who can go this route alone, I think most people really benefit from having the right partner and I can't stress this enough to, uh, different entrepreneurs. I think that the natural tendency of people is to jump right into the idea that they have or, uh, the business opportunity they see or things like that, but really that will change 50 times throughout the lifetime of a company, but the partners, uh, that you gain along the way and the people you work with, uh, are really what, uh, gets you through it. The other thing is play to your strengths. I think it was a long, hard exercise for me personally to think about that and realize that at least for the first company that I ever set up, I want to succeed in doing this and when I realize that and that that's my top priority, I, um, focus solely on playing to my strengths, making this game, uh, the least hard that it could be. Playing to your strengths, maximizes the odds of success and every other consideration lowers them inevitably, or at least, uh, um, kind of shrinks, I guess the, the probability space for success.

Nadir Izrael: I hope, uh, that people would remember the impact I've had, not just in the company's direction or the product or things like that, but mostly the impact on individual lives of people. I hope that I'm remembered as a person who helped, uh, empower other people in the organization to be the best that they can be. I hope that my impact is measured not just in terms of uh, the company growth, but also the people within it and the culture that got generated there.