Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Bubba's Movie Review and Business Start-Up Essentials

Today I saw an Israeli movie called "Lalechet al haMayim" (Walk on Water). It was made by an American-Israeli or Israeli-American director (the name is Eitan Fox). It tries to deal with a bunch of topics. It brings in the holocaust, modern Germany, modern Israel, forgiveness, generational gaps among other things. Its not crap. Its relatively good in simply being a movie in which the point is not obvious, and it not forgiveness a la The Interpreter or other shitty Hollywood movies. I will have to think through the movie again to understand it, which can be either good or bad... In either case the mere fact that the movie requires thought is a refreshing change. In particular I am trying to figure out what walking on water means as a metaphor....

The movie deals with second and third generations of Israelis and Germans after the Holocaust. A Mossad agent/assassin, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, suffering major emotional trauma is sent on a mission where he has to get close to a German woman volunteering in Israel and her hippie brother. The objective is to find information on the whereabouts of their Nazi grandfather. The Nazi's grandchildren are deeply conflicted with their grandfather's famous role during the war. They are rebelling against their parents and their grandfather's Nazi ties. The sister is volunteering on a Kibbutz in Israel (relatively common to find German girls in Israel either studying in Unis, working on Kibbutzim or even more strangely converting to Judaism [often they will have Israeli boyfriends. when they break up with them they often get a Palestinian boyfriend and become deeply pro-Palestinian]). The brother is rebelling in other ways. The brother comes to visit his sister in Israel on a mission to bring her back to Germany for their father's 70th birthday party.

Anyways, the movie takes place in Israel and in Germany. Dialogue is conducted in German, English and Hebrew. Its a good movie and though it is a bit preachy at times (the part with the Arab guy) generally stays away from blatant preaching. The ending is good in surprising, a bit emotional in presenting. Overall its worth seeing.

The Israeli part of the movie seemingly takes place in the first few months of 2002 when I was in Israel and it reminded me of the events, the places and the general atmosphere. First it seemed that there was an attack almost every day until operation Defensive Shield. Second the fact that when a terrorist attack happens everybody's cell phone starts ringing and people just start calling everybody who could have been in the bombing. Israel is very small so many cell phones will ring. Or that every time after an attack on the radio they would start playing sad music, and that after a while, though depressed, people mostly just got used to the situation.


As far as business goes.. I spent some of the day reading the book 'e-myth revisited' which deals with how one should visualize the process of creating a business. Though I generally loath to admit lapses in understanding on my part, i must admit that the book has helped me greatly in better understanding the processes and concepts behind building a successful business. I initially thought of starting a business as simply doing actions A,B,C in order to make money, however if one were to do that then he would be stuck doing actions A,B,C indefinately because he hasn't built a business, he has created a new highly repetitive job for himself. He has also created a situation where he is stuck in his 'business' because he is the 'business' and without him there is nothing to sell. In essence a business must be visualized as a venture that can be formulated and systematized and then be capable of repetition without the involvement of the owner. This way it can be be run by remote or sold if so desired. In order to create such a business one must explicitly outline the roles, functions, power relations and interactions of the staff and the process for carrying out the financing, marketing, customer support, shipping, purchasing, and all other aspects required for running the business. Even though initially one person might fill all the roles within the company, once the company expands there is a need for understanding which roles are taken up by the new employees and which ones are maintained by the owner and how they interact between them. Additionally in order to have continuous operation of a business some redundancy may need to be built into the system in order to not allow the departure of one key employee or contract to fatally wound the hole system. So if I initially had thought of hiring one freelance graphics designer to do my graphics, it might be better to have 2 designers on a rotating basis so that if one is lost the other can pick up the slack while another designer is found. The same applies to other functions.

Because of this newly found understanding of how successful businesses are started I have also rethought the value of a business plan. I had previously put little value on it and thought of it as essentially a useless attempt at predicting things that can not be measured beforehand. Now I see that the value of a business plan is to outline a vision of both present and of the future and to conduct business in such a way as to work towards the future vision.

At the same time the book is full of American psychobabble... spirit, wild horses, the enterpreneur inside. Imagine your eulogy and work backwards, where do you want to be in 20 years? 50 years? Some of the greatest people I know are like mature businesses, they know how they got to where they are and where they are going. The difference between warriors and everybody else is that for warriors everything is a challenge, for everybody else it is either a blessing or a curse. blah blah blah.. blah blah... blah.... Self-fulfillment, setting personal goals and reaching them, setting a goal for your life, creating benchmarks, living a purposeful life... All that self-improvement qualities in people that we, as Americans, are supposed to respect and revere. What a bunch of crap. A pathetic attempt at substitution for a god, absolute benchmarks and a sense of community that we have sacrificed on the altar of personal control and self-aggrandizement. Since we no longer respect any old-fashioned absolute beliefs ([in a squimish voice] eeeuuuh you mean members of other religions will go to hell? eeeuuh you mean Jesus doesn't really love absolutely everybody? (btw, he f@$#*ng hates you) eeeeuuuh you mean Western civilization is better than [insert other civ here]? eeeuuuh you mean I don't have full control over my life?) we are forced into creating benchmarks for ourselves because the fact that we helped Mrs. Oldaswood cross the road does not give us any satisfaction because it doesn't help us reach our goal of $2 million, a perfect marriage and a 12 bedroom mansion half-way around the world. Is it any wonder that regardless of where we set our goals we are still going to be disappointed? If we succeed then we have nothing more to live for unless we can come up with new and even more grandiose arbitrary goals. If we fail then we have failed and there is no one to blame but ourselves because we are in full control of our lives, right? And though I use a moralizing tone, its not as if I am an external spectator...

Anyways, I have rambled on long enough. good night.


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