Judaism has a profound impact on many aspects of my work.
As a venture capitalist, I meet with entrepreneurs and evaluate their startups to determine if they represent an attractive investment opportunity. I deal with founders for whom the fundraising process is a crucial part of their entrepreneurial journey. Because I typically select a handful of companies out of many hundreds that I meet with each year (a common ratio for venture capitalists), I have to say “no” 99 times out of 100. I try to approach these meetings centered on the Jewish value of kavod, respect. Kavod is related to kaved, which means heavy. For the entrepreneur, fundraising and building their startup is a weighty endeavor and I try to honor that effort, even if I decide not to invest in the company.
As a professor (I teach entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School), I have the opportunity to teach talented young professionals about entrepreneurship at a formative time in their careers. I endeavor to teach my students something beyond the world of startups: the value of pursuing a fulfilling life surrounded by loving relationships, community and faith. For me, that faith is obviously Judaism. For my diverse students, it may be any one of a number of faiths. Most important, though, is to transcend hyper-individualism and focus on their role in contributing to something larger, just as we do as Jews.
Finally, in my civic work, I endeavor to practice tikkun olam, repair the world. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I have a profound and deeply personal appreciation for our nation as a beacon of democracy and our Boston community as a welcoming environment for immigrants. This fuels my work in social justice, diversity and inclusion.
So, yes, my Judaism truly infuses all aspects of my work.